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Full text of "Autobiography of Charles Caldwell, M.D."

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YALE 
MEDICAL LIBRARY 




HISTORICAL 
LIBRARY 






. i i- i | i ii. - ■ GrBmbo & Co Phils delphu 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



JH>, 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M.D. 



PREFACE, NOTES, AND APPENDIX, 



BY 

HARRIOT W. WARNER, 



PHILADELPHIA: 
LIPPIXCOTT, GRAMBO, AND CO. 

1S55. 






Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by 

LIPPINCOTT, GRAMBO, AND CO., 

in the Office of the Clerk of the District Court of the United States, in and for 
the Eastern District of the State of Pennsylvania. 



PREFACE BY THE EDITRESS. 



The Autobiography of Dr. Caldwell was composed during the* 
last seven or eight years of his life. It was also revised, corrected, 
and prepared by himself for the press, and committed to my care, 
to be preserved, and presented to the public, when the proper 
time should arrive for its publication. It was my earnest wish 
to leave it untouched by any other hand. On submitting it, how- 
ever, to friends and publishers, it was pronounced somewhat too 
voluminous to be printed entire ; and it became necessary, there- 
fore, to abstract from it such portions as could best be removed, 
Avithout detracting from the interest and character of the Avork. 

Wholly unaccustomed to such an office, and entirely unassisted 
in its execution, I am not without serious apprehensions that the 
task may have been very imperfectly performed. I make this 
statement, therefore, in order that, if there should appear in the 
body of the work, any discrepancy or other imperfection of 
manner or matter, it may be attributed to the true cause ; for the 
work, as given from the hand of its author, was singularly con- 
gruous and complete. 

It was my original intention to append to the author's name, 
on the title-page of this book, all the degrees and titles of honor 
which have been conferred upon him by the numerous universi- 
ties and societies, literary, scientific, and philosophical, of which 
he was a member, both at home and abroad. 

Finding them, however, to be inconveniently numerous, and 
remembering, moreover, that, in his lifetime, he took no pains to 



IV PREFACE BY THE EDITRESS. 

collect and preserve such testimonials, nor ever appended a single 
title to his name (that of M. D. alone excepted) in any of his 
printed publications, I have deemed it most consistent with his 
character and mode of acting, to give his Autobiography to the 
public under the sanction and influence of his name alone. 



CONTENTS. 



INTRODUCTION". 

History — Meaning of the term — Autobiography — Its difficulties — Egotism — False 
modesty — Keasons for writing — Early companions — Books my real companions — 
Qui docel, discit — Exercise — Civility — Young Americans abroad — Trial of civility 
in London — Pleasures of retrospection — No accidental act — Disinterestedness — 
Attachments — Natives of the United States and Great Britain compared — Abbe" 
St. Pierre and Franklin. — Nature makes few great men, training many — Priestley 
— Ambition — Love of mental contest not a good habit . . . .17 



CHAPTER I. 

My ancestral name — 'Whence derived — Uncle Davy — My father — My mother's fa- 
mily — Col. Murray — His exploits — My birth — Mecklenburg County, North Caro- 
lina — Go to school — My teachers — Progress — Begin Latin — Build a log study — 
Lose my parents — Teach in an academy — Remove to another — Besolve to study 
medicine . 55 



CHAPTER II. 

Salisbury — My Preceptor — Dissatisfaction — Determine to go to Philadelphia — My 
friends in Salisbury — Henderson — Rev. Dr. Hall — Rev. Dr Archibald — Military 
escort — First view of Washington — Its effects on me — Leave Salisbury . 77 



CHAPTER III. 

Philadelphia— Eloquence— Pulpit— Bar— Mr. L s— Mr. T.— His daughter— 

Medical school — The Faculty — Shippen — His appearance — Character— Punc- 
tuality— Rush— His introductory— Khun— Wistar— His character— His classical 



learning 



100 



VI CONTENTS. 



CHAPTEE IV. 

Lectures— Mode of attending them— Notes— Critics— No parties— Mrs. Rush— A 

party at her house— Rush's lectures— Analogy— Unity of fever— Dr. G tts— 

His manners— Dr. Barton— His appearance-Courtesy— Character— Henry Moss 
— Dr. Woodhouse — His skill in chemistry 14 " 



CHAPTEE V. 

Yellow fever in Philadelphia— Flight of the inhabitants— Commerce arrested— New 
York— Difficulty in obtaining lodgings— Fever Hospital— Write on domestic 
origin — Dr. Rush — His courage and firmness — His judicious practice — Calomel — 
Its efficacy as a remedy— Rush's dose of "ten and ten" — Rush's opinion of the 
domestic origin of yellow fever, supported by Aretsms, Jr.— Schuylkill water- 
Mode of debating— Close of medical session— Translated Blumenbach— Plan of 
study— Diet— Exercise— Failing health— The brain multiplex — Gall— Spurzheim 

177 



CHAPTER VI. 

Military Campaign — Washington— Hamilton — Gen. G — r — y — An adventure — Am 
appointed surgeon to a brigade — A long walk — A fever cured by rain — Letter to 
Rush— Theses — Military banquet — A lady — Her influence . . . 203 



CHAPTER VII. 

Degree of M. D. — Thesis — What occurred at my examination — Offend Drs. Wistar 
and Rush- — Consequences — Begin practice — Success — Amusements — Chess — Dr. 
Rittenhouse — Dr. Rush signs my diploma — Waterworks in Philadelphia — Dr. 
Rush, the originator of domestic origin of yellow fever — Write in his support on 
that subject 228 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Post-mortem examination — Dr. Physick begins it — Its good effect — French Revolu- 
tion — It promotes the knowledge of medicine — Napoleon — Medical School of 
Paris — Physical sketch of the city of Philadelphia — Origin and nature of yellow 
fever — Non-contagion — Philadelphia Almshouse — Lectures — The first clinical 
course — Rittenhouse — Henry Moss — Dr. Smith — Physicians of Philadelphia — 
Rush alone a, philosopher — Yellow fever again — Write anonymously — Am taken 
ill of the fever — Rush and Physick visit and attend me — Philadelphia Academy of 
Medicine — Deliver the semi-annual oration — Dr. Haygarth — Reply to his critique 
— Dr. Lettsom — Lost publications — Italian language — Prepare for teaching 
medicine ............. 256 



CONTENTS. VU 



CHAPTEE IX. 



Prizes — Never lost one — Dr. Rush unfriendly — A prophecy — Brunonian theory of 
life — A public speech — Dr. Coxe — A scene in his lecture-room — Vitality of the 
blood — Dr. Darwin, Currie, Beddoesf and Lettsom — Correspondents — American 
medical independence 288 



CHAPTEE X. 

Sedatives and stimulants — Schuylkill water — Phrenology — Disease a unit — Metho- 
dical nosology — Reformation — Melancthon — Luther — Gen. Jackson — Ramsay — 
Coxe — Seybert — Death of Dr. Rush — Memoir of Dr. Rush in Delaplaine's Reposi- 
tory — Rev. Dr. Staughton — How to teach one's self the best tuition — Dr. Chapman 

300 



CHAPTEE XL 

War of 1812 — Port Folio — Nicholas Biddlc — No contributors — Contents — Officers of 
the army 1 — Events of the war — Gen. Brown — His character — Theatre — Quakers 
— Notes to Cullen — Chapman — Faculty of Physical Science — Appointed to a 
professorship — Dr. Cooper — Charles Hare, Esq. — Death of Dr. Wistar — Pro- 
nounce a eulogy on him — Rev. Dr. Ilolley — Invited to Lexington, Kentucky — 
Resign my professorship in Philadelphia — Character of Cooper — Priestley com- 
pared with Cooper ........... 321 



CHAPTEE XII. 

Leave Philadelphia — State of travelling — Long drought — Reach Lexington — 

Points of the compass — Medical school — Professors — Dr. D y — An address to 

the people — Address to the Legislature — My introductory — Valedictory — Reply 
to a critique on my " Life of Greene" — End of session — Departure for Europe — 
Liverpool — English women — Stage-coach anecdote — Mrs. Solomon — Roscoe — 
Bostock — Sir Astley Cooper — John Hunter — First interview with Abernethy — 
Mr. Lawrence — Mrs. Somerville — Ladies' conversation party — Chelsea Hospital 
— London — Speakers in Parliament — Thames tunnel — Coronation of George the 
Fourth— Death of Queen Caroline 349 



CHAPTEE XIII. 

Set out for Paris — Books — Where found, and why — Cuvier — Dupuytren — Baron 

Larrey — Alibert — Lafayette — Grouchy — Duchesse de P Her courtesies — 

Leave Paris — Frost in June — A French lady — Voyage home — Ship Electra — 
Storm — Lexington school — Proposal to remove it — Reasons — Valedictory — Louis- 
ville — Propose to erect u. school there — Difficulties — Opposition — No faculty — 
No means of instruction — Money — A public speech — Judge Rowan — James 



Till CONTENTS. 

Guthrie — Dr. Flint — Success of the School — Br. Yandell — Intrigues — Chair va- 
cated — How filled — The medical faculty — Honorary degree offered, and refused 
— Graduating class — Their opinion and action — How the two medical schools of 
Lexington and Louisville were raised up, and how they declined . . 390 



CHAPTEE XIV. 

Have written on too many subjects — Authorship — Yellow fever — Dr. Eush at length 
convinced of its non-contagion — Plague — A French writer on it — Prison disci- 
pline 417 



CHAPTEE XV. 

Literary and scientific portion of my Autobiography — Catalogue — Conclusion 429 
APPENDIX 451 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF DR. CALDWELL. 



INTRODUCTION. 

History — Meaning of the term — Autobiography — Its difficulties — Egotism — False 
modesty — Reasons for writing — Early companions — Books his real companions — 
Qui docct, discit— Exercise — Civility — Young Americans abroad — Trial of civility 
in London — Pleasures of retrospection — No accidental act — Disinterestedness — 
Attachments — Natives of the United States and Great Britain compared — Abbe 
St. Pierre and Franklin. — Nature makes few great men, training man}- — Priestley 
— Ambition — Love of mental contest not a good habit. 

Few words in the English language have been so variously 
interpreted as the term history. Yet so general is its use, and so 
high its importance, that none deserves to be more accurately 
defined, and, in its meaning, more exactly understood. Without 
such dctiuiteness and precision, more or less of mistake and dis- 
order, if not of actual confusion and contradiction, must occur in 
the productions of the clearest thinkers, and the ablest and most 
accomplished speakers and writers, that express themselves on 
the subject. 

The term history is of Greek origin, and is derived from a 
word which signifies, according to the different purposes for 
which it is employed on different occasions, a witness, a judge, or 
an umpire. 

Retaining, in all cases, therefore, a sufficient remnant of its 
original and literal meaning to serve for the recognition of its 
sameness, it has been defined, according to the views and objects 
of the several writers, who have spoken of it to that effect, a 
narrative of events— a witness of the times— the light or lamp of 
truth— the remembrancer and teacher of life— and the messenger 
of antiquity. 
2 



18 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

But the definition of history which, all things considered, ap- 
pears to be most significant and comprehensive, as well as most 
correct, and therefore preferable to every other, is, that it is that 
form of writing, which records and teaches truth and philosophy, 
by fact and example. For, if it do not teach "philosophy" as well 
as " fact," it is so far defective. 

This is, in a particular manner, the most appropriate definition 
of individual history, or biography — especially of autobiography, 
provided it be executed with ability and faithfulness. In such a 
case, it reflects life as an aggregate of fact and philosophy, with as 
much accuracy as the mirror does the image of the object placed 
before it. For it is not to be doubted that, other things being 
equal, each individual, in consideration of his more correct and 
thorough knowledge of himself both bodily and mentally — espe- 
cially of the grounds, motives, and consequences of his actions, 
no less than of the actions themselves, is better qualified than 
anybody else, to give a true account of his own life and character, 
and to render them as instructive and useful as their materials 
will admit. He can, with much more certainty and precision, 
tell, under what circumstances, and from what influences he per- 
formed or refrained from performing certain actions, adopted or 
rejected certain opinions and measures, and engaged in or de- 
clined certain enterprises, which presented themselves to him, 
and thus make his narrative more instructive and valuable, by 
enriching it with the true constituents, and the positive relations 
of cause and effect, than it could be rendered by any other 
person. 

Under such advantages of information and knowledge, nothing 
but feelings excessive and ungoverned, misdirected, or in some 
other way perverted and deranged, can so detract from the fitness 
of the narrator to write his own history, as to render it unpro- 
ductive of a beneficial result. 

The feelings referred to as most likely to interfere with the 
accuracy and deduct from the value of the writer's narrative, are 
various, and some of them directly opposed to each other in their 
action and influence. 

The chief and most formidable of them are excessive self- 
esteem and love of approbation, which, acting singly, or in co- 
operation, impel the individual preparing his own history, to aim 



CHARLES CALDWELL, II. D. 19 

at an inordinate and unmerited degree of standing and applause, 
by representing himself as the chief or one of the chief person- 
ages, and most effective agents, in every interesting scene and 
enterprise described by him. In opposition to these two strong 
and imperious feelings, is an excess of modesty and diffidence, 
inducing the self-historian to forego, in his narrative (by an entire 
omission, an inadequate representation, or some other mode of 
diminution or concealment of scenes and events), the amount of 
reputation and distinction, to which, from the part he performed 
in them, he is justly entitled. I need hardly add, that a pre- 
dominance of the faculty of cautiousness, or secretiveness, or of 
both united, may readily, in cases which, without being specified, 
must present themselves to every one, make the autobiographer 
swerve from truth. Nor would it be difficult to refer to other 
feelings, which, when in a state of excitement, are but too well 
calculated to produce the same effect. Indeed, deep feeling of 
every description, is unfriendly to accuracy of perception, repre- 
sentation, and thought. While, by augmenting pathos, and render- 
ing expression more elevated and intense, it may add to the force 
and effect of eloquence and poetry, it withholds from philosophy 
its purity and soundness, and from history the invulnerable 
authenticity which should always characterize it. 

In proof of the incalculable value that may be imparted to 
autobiography, as a source of instruction in the philosophy of 
human conduct, that of Dr. Franklin may be confidently adduced. 
Of that wonderful man, the biographj- written by himself — plain, 
simple, and unlabored, as it is — contains, notwithstanding, an 
amount of philosophical teaching tenfold more abundant, genuine, 
and useful, than could have been incorporated in it, by all the 
other biographers on earth. It is hardly sufficient to call that 
composition the autobiography of Franklin. "With but little 
metaphorical extravagance, it may be pronounced Franklin him- 
self; consolidated and pellucidly embodied in the essence of his 
own words; still living, acting, thinking, and feeling, with each 
spring of action, whether of body or mind, together with the 
action itself and its several consequences, as distinctly visible as 
if they were inclosed for exhibition in a cabinet of crystal. 

If the representation, made in a preceding paragraph, of the 
several causes, so adverse and influential as to be likely to de- 



20 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

tract from autobiographical impartiality and candor, or entirely 
to subvert them, in behalf of their opposites, partiality and de- 
ceptiveness — if that representation be true (and I have no reason 
to apprehend that it will be controverted), then, for a person, 
engaged in writing his own biography, strictly and conscienti- 
ously to aim at, and accurately attain the just mean between the 
extremes of the contrary and conflicting causes, is no easy task. 
Nor is it one, which, however ably and perfectly executed, is 
rewarded by security from envy and obloquy, or even by protec- 
tion from contradiction and injustice. Far otherwise. He who 
engages in it must be unusually sanguine and unsuspicious, and 
limited in his experience and knowledge of men and their prac- 
tices, if he believe or even hope that he will escape the charge 
of vanity or self-conceit, or be shielded from some other more 
disparaging and offensive imputation. Provided his account of 
himself be in any marked degree commendatory and flattering, 
he must deem himself exceedingly fortunate, and kindly treated, 
if he be not suspected and publicly accused of an attempt to 
attract admiration, and attain celebrity, by studied fiction, or de- 
liberate falsehood — or by both united. 

In my own case, should the memoir I have commenced be pre- 
pared and published, the danger of an accusation of this sort will 
be not only imminent, but peculiarly annoying, if made on ac- 
count of the difficulty, not to say the impossibility of meeting 
and refuting it. For, as will hereafter more fully appear, there 
exists not a human being, who is competent satisfactorily to 
testify to either the truth or the falsehood of an account, by 
whomsoever it may be given, of the first twenty-five years of my 
life. Th.e reason of this may be briefly rendered. There is not 
now to be found — it is believed that there is not now living, any 
individual, whose acquaintance with me was sufficiently intimate 
to authorize him to testify to a single fact respecting me, during 
those years— except, perhaps, my mere existence, and to my 
having been reputed an indefatigable student. No inaccuracies 
or objections, doubts or cavils, therefore, alleged in relation to 
my memoir during that period, can be conclusively either dis- 
credited or confirmed. My own statement, being the only testi- 
mony on the subject that can be adduced, must be admitted as 
true, regarded as doubtful, or rejected as false. 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 21 

By these difficulties, however, my course shall be neither im- 
peded nor changed. At no period of my life have I ever, in a 
matter of moment, "put my hand to the plough, and looked 
backward." Nor shall I do so now, by conforming to the prac- 
tice of either the backslider, or the irresolute. Having com- 
menced the story of my life, I shall tell it truly, though by 
readers who are strangers to my native feelings, and my habits 
early formed, and never departed from, I may be suspected of 
occasionally spicing it with fiction or fable. By those to whom 
I am sufficiently known, no suspicion of the kind will be enter- 
tained. And as respects the tribe of fault-finders by profession 
(for such beings have an existence), whether they be cavillers, 
snarlers, wise and wary doubters, or habitual contradictors, I hold 
them now, when approaching the close of my life, in the same 
calm and unalterable disregard (not to employ a harsher term) in. 
which I am known to have held them since its commencement. 

In no other than this straight forward and fearless way, can I 
illustrate and effectually recommend certain springs and princi- 
ples of action, which, on all important occasions, have moved 
and governed, and, with but few, if any exceptions, benefited me, 
since my childhood. Nor can I, in any other mode of proceeding, 
make, by means of them, so promising an effort to benefit others. 
And, in a case so plain and significant, so essentially connected 
with manly independence, and involving the performance of 
duties which ought to be held sacred and inviolable — in such a 
case, I will not give cause to have myself deemed a delinquent 
in auy scheme of useful action, from an apprehension of danger 
or mischief to myself, in consequence of having engaged in it. 
The man who will not, when necessary, incur hazards, for the 
sake of acting well his part in life, with a view to the promotion 
of the welfare of others, and the acquisition for himself of a 
well-founded and lasting reputation, will never achieve success, 
much less distinction, in relation to either object. Confirmatory 
of this view of the subject, is the well-known apothegm : " No- 
thing venture, nothing win." And though the maxim is 
expressed in language as homely as it is simple, yet, having with- 
stood, undiminished in its credit and popularity, the dint of time 
and experience, for thousands of years, that fact alone furnishes 



22 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

abundant evidence that it is founded in truth. For nothing short 
of truth can bear unchanged the sweep of ages. 

To those who have been carefully observant of the progress of 
human affairs, and sufficiently retentive of the events it exhibits, 
it would be superfluous to offer further proof of the truth of these 
remarks. To them, they are abundantly proved by their own ob- 
servation and experience. Such individuals know it to be true, 
that more or less of hazard to either reputation, standing, influ- 
ence, or all of them, is a never-failing concomitant of a resolute and 
independent attempt to aid in the production or promotion of strik- 
ing and important discoveries and improvements, and of the bene- 
fits which result from them— especially if they involve any very 
obvious amount of novelty or change in things of long-established 
existence and repute— things incorporated with the partialities 
and prejudices of the public. And it matters but little whether 
the change be in principle or hypothesis, opinion or practice. It 
is assailed by opposition and clamorous contradiction, and its 
author by denunciation, and, perhaps, persecution. Instances in 
proof of this are coeval with the history of man, and have occur- 
red with a frequency that cannot be numbered. So truly has it 
been remarked, by one of the most sagacious and virtuous of 
men, that "envy, detraction, and opposition are a tax, which 
every man must pay for an attempt to become eminent;" and, 
he might have added, more especially if his attempt prove suc- 
cessful. To this maxim I have never either witnessed or heard 
of an exception. Every individual that I have ever known, or 
been fully informed of, by history or otherwise, who, by his own 
talents and exertions, has rendered himself conspicuous and use- 
ful, whether by new and unusual means, or by new modes of 
employing means already in existence — every such individual 
who has, in any way, fallen under my notice, has had to encounter 
some form of dissatisfaction and malevolence, especially from 
some of his superiors in years, and of those who, because they 
are his elders, hold themselves also, as of necessity, his anteriors 
and superiors in knowledge and experience. Nor can the case 
be otherwise, until such a revolution shall have been produced in 
the character of man as to have given to his intellectual and 
moral the requisite ascendancy over his animal faculties. Then, 
but not before, will the iniquitous proceedings referred to have 



CHARLES CALDWELL, II. D. 23 

an end. Then, but not before, will men look on those, by whose 
enterprise and exertions they have been thrown into shade in 
reputation, standing, and influence, without envy, heart-burning, 
or calumny. 

Does any one, fresh in youth and inexperience, regard this as 
a gloomy and censorious report, uttered by the lips of disappoint- 
ment and chagrin, and not as a faithful representation of the 
events which human society exhibits? If so, let him embark in 
any pursuit he may choose, and mingle in the bustle of active 
and aspiring life, until he shall have attained the maturity and 
experience of manhood, and his opinion of it will be changed. 
He will acknowledge it then to be neither fiction nor exaggera- 
tion; but an unvarnished statement, conceived under the influence 
of sound intelligence, and framed in the simplicity and sobriety 
of truth. He will then deal in facts and maxims derived from 
the storehouse of ripened and substantial knowledge ; whereas, 
he had previously but sported with anticipations and fancies 
drawn from the flowery, but crude and evanescent creations of 
hope. 

Does any one, actuated by mere curiosity, or by other motives 
higher and worthier, or still less defensible, feel inclined to in- 
quire, why, under the sombre views and discouraging fore- 
thoughts just stated, I have embarked in the precarious and 
responsible enterprise of writing the history of my own life, and 
of adding to the weight of my responsibility, by embracing in it 
the reminiscences of my own time? To this question, regarding 
it as proposed, I reply, that several considerations have concurred 
in involving me in the task. 

1. I have been not only requested, but entreated and impor- 
tuned to engage in it, by sundry individuals, who have persuaded 
themselves that it may be rendered both interesting and useful, 
and who have a claim on my compliance not easily resisted. 

2. No person, but myself, can execute the work, except from 
materials furnished by myself. Of this the reason is plain, and 
has been, in part, already stated. Of all my contemporaries, as 
heretofore mentioned, none who were my comrades in my early 
years, are now living; or, if so, I am a stranger to the fact. And 
were they even alive, and brought to the task, there are various 



24 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

reasons why none of them would be qualified to act as my bio- 
grapher. 

More than half a century has elapsed and done its work since 
we separated from each other; they remaining in the region 
where we were born, acting as choice or necessity influenced 
them ; and I removing to a distant one, in eager pursuit of know- 
ledge and its concomitants. Since that remote period, therefore, 
they have been entire strangers to the events of my life ; and 
their previous knowledge of me must be swept from their minds 
by the checkered and eventful current of time. Nor is this all. 

My books, from the time I was able to read them, and other 
sources of useful instruction, were the chief, if not all of my real 
companions; while my school-fellows and other acquaintances 
were the companions of one another. The end which I held con- 
stantly in view, and labored almost exclusively to attain, was 
useful knowledge and its applications, together with certain manly 
and not inelegant personal accomplishments ; while the end at 
which they aimed, in fact, though not in pretension, was, to an 
unreasonable extent, mere pastime and amusement. And to this 
wanton consumption of time corresponded the condition of their 
subsequent standing. A youth of idleness was succeeded by a 
lifetime, if not of ignorance, of humble mediocrity in science and 
letters. 

With the few of them, who were at all inclined to cultivate 
their minds by scholastic exercises, I occasionally spent hours, at 
their own request, chiefly for the purpose of aiding them in their 
studies. In affording this aid, I had also in view my own im- 
provement ; for I became convinced, at an early period of my 
life, of the truth and value of the Koman adage : Qui clocet, 
discit : he who teaches, learns. Not only, therefore, were my 
pride and ambition gratified, by an opportunity of showing my 
superiority to my fellow-students, by the magisterial process of 
instructing them in their lessons; I soon became sensible that 
that process added not a little to the accuracy of my own scholar- 
ship ; for every feeling of nature participant of self was concerned 
in showing that I possessed an accuracy which enabled me to 
explain with readiness difficulties in their tasks that were inex- 
plicable to many others, who wer more than my equals in years, 
as well as in the time they had spent at school. Nor is it pro- 



CIIARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 25 

bable that my accuracy would have been as great as it -was, had 
I not been proud of exhibiting it ; and had I not, on that account, 
labored the more steadily and earnestly for its attainment. And 
that I might on the same principle, and by similar means, still 
further improve it, I became afterwards, for some time, nryself 
the principal director of an academic institution. To young men, 
moreover, Avho are ambitious to become thorough-bred scholars, 
and who may have an opportunity to do so, I recommend the 
adoption of a similar measure. During the time I thus employed 
myself in teaching others, I improved, in correctness and accu- 
racy of scholarship, more than did any pupil under my care. And 
every young man, in the capacity of a teacher, may do the same. 
In truth, he cannot well fail to do it, provided he possess a suf- 
ficiency of self-respect, and be duly sensible of the dignity and 
deep responsibility of his office. 

I have said that with my school-fullows, and other acquaint- 
ances, especially such of them as were idle and heedless as to the 
cultivation of their minds, I never familiarly and cordially asso- 
ciated. To this, however, an exception existed. During the 
hours regularly set apart for relaxation from study, and free in- 
dulgence in corporeal exercise, I was usually in the midst of those 
most eagerly and strenuously engaged. In my devotion to this 
employment, my design was not merely to escape from my books, 
give to my intellect relaxation and rest, and thus somewhat use- 
lessly pass away my time; I had objects in view both important and 
interesting to me. I aimed at the preservation of health and har- 
diness, the augmentation of bodily strength and activity, and the 
improvement of myself in certain forms of athletic exercise, which 
were regarded as manly and useful accomplishments, and in which 
the youth of the place were accustomed to indulge. And, as I 
took part in such gymnastics at all, I determined to do so to the 
highest practicable effect. I therefore contended for superiority in 
them with the same earnestness and resolution which I habitually 
manifested in more elevated pursuits. Nor did I fail to convince 
myself that ambition, exertion, and perseverance were sure to 
prove in both equally the source of excellence and distinction. 
No sooner, however, had the time for corporeal exercise and 
training expired, than I left the gymnasium, withdrew to the re- 



26 AUTOBIOGEAPHY OF 

tirement and quietude of my study, and engaged, with renovated 
industry and ardor, in the cultivation of my mind. 

After the remarks which have been made, it need hardly be 
added that a steady perseverance in the course of action just 
described, was not long in giving me, as already intimated, a de- 
cided ascendency in scholarship over my less attentive and labo- 
rious fellow-students. Nor was that its only effect. With my 
teachers it bestowed on me a corresponding elevation in favorit- 
ism and standing. Nor did it stop there. It gave me, as a youth, 
a highly flattering degree of celebrity in the surrounding country, 
and ultimately led to my election at a very early period of life 
to the directorship, heretofore alluded to, of a large and respect- 
able literary academy. Such were some of its advantages. But 
it had also its disadvantages, which deserve likewise to be men- 
tioned ; for all things human (especially if selfish feelings be awa- 
kened by them) are but a mixture, if not of actual good and evil, 
at least of something so closely approaching them as to be pro- 
ductive of very analogous effects — of convenience and inconveni- 
ence — likes and dislikes — commendation and censure — rewards 
and acts designed as punishments, with their natural conse- 
quences. It is not to be supposed that the bestowal of a marked 
degree of approbation, accompanied by occasional tokens of dis- 
tinction, so flattering to me, and virtually condemnatory of negli- 
gent and comparatively ignorant members of the school, who, 
instead of commendation, were often the subjects of admonition 
and rebuke ; it is not to be imagined that such a condition of 
things added in any measure to my popularity with the mass of 
my fellow-students. On the contrary, among the habitual idlers 
and time-spenders of the institution, it materially detracted from 
it. The reason is plain. I have usually found that those who 
wantonly neglect the cultivation of their minds, when the requi- 
site means are placed within their reach, are as destitute of mag- 
nanimity and justice as they are of industry. Their sense of 
demerit in themselves renders them envious and hostile toward 
merit in others. This truth is in perfect harmony with the 
invaluable advice of Polonius to his son Laertes:— 

" To thyself be true, 

Ami it will follow, as the night the day, 
Thou canst not then be false to any man." 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 27 

And it follows as naturally in the converse, that those who are 
untrue to themselves, neither do nor can fail to be in some way 
false to others. In truth, it should be moulded into a maxim, and 
regarded as such, that those who are faithless to themselves are 
faithless to the world, and should never be trusted. Were a 
maxim of the kind adopted as a general rule of action, and judg- 
ment, it would be abundantly operative in the prevention of evil. 
But to proceed in my narrative. 

With such members of the school as were attentive to their 
studies, and ambitious to excel in them, I always stood remarka- 
bly well — perhaps for two reasons — I took pleasure in aiding 
them in the solution of difficulties, which, meeting them in their 
lessons and other exercises, puzzled and annoyed them ; and, in 
all my intercourse with them, I treated them with studied respect 
and courtesy, and never assumed, in relation to them, a single air 
of superiority, on account of my reputation for superior scholar- 
ship. Nor, even with the idlers of the school, was I ever on 
what could be justly called "bad terms." For this there also 
perhaps existed two substantial reasons. Though never inti- 
mate, or very cordial with them, my deportment toward them 
was politely civil ; and it was well understood that as I never 
offered neither would I tolerate offensive behavior ; and that, in 
every emergency, I was prepared and prompt to act my part, and 
take care of myself. And the experience of a long life, some- 
what diversified by situation and incident, has confirmed me in a 
belief, which I then entertained, that our best protection, in all 
cases, consists in civility and preparation for action, and in 
courage and firmness when engaged in it. Add coolness and 
self-possession, and the provision is complete. Whether by land 
or sea, in civil or military, public or private life, I have always 
relied on them ; and they have never proved insufficient for my 
purpose. A paragraph or two more on civility and courtesy, and 
I shall take leave of them. Nine-tenths of the people of Christ- 
endom, as there is reason to believe, are strangers to the powerful 
and extensive influence of these two attributes of good-breeding, 
and their concomitant advantages. 

Young gentlemen about to visit Europe, in quest of improve- 
ment, have often called on me for letters and advice, to aid them 



28 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

in their travels. On handing to them letters of introduction, I 
have usually addressed them to the following effect :— 

"These letters, besides making you known to the persons to 
whom they are addressed, will probably procure for you a break- 
fast, a dinner, or a supper, or all of them, and there their 
influence will end, and leave you to receive alone the fruit of your 
own subsequent conduct. And the passports, which you carry 
with you, will procure for you admittance into, passage through, 
and departure from the different kingdoms and countries you 
may visit, and will be no further serviceable to you. You may 
moreover lose them, before reaching the places to which you are 
bound, an event which will render them entirely useless. All 
things considered, therefore, their value is comparatively small. 

"But you may carry with you another article, as a portion of 
yourselves, which you cannot lose, except by the act of your own 
will, and which will never cease to serve you in your enjoyments 
and interests, as long as you may live. It is good-breeding — mani- 
fested by propriety, civility, and courtesy of behavior. In sup- 
plying you with all you may want or wish for, it will be second 
only to the contents of your purses. And should your purses 
even, by accident or misfortune, be lost, or become temporai-ily 
empty, you may, in many cases, rely on it, until they shall have 
been replenished, or your misfortune in some other way repaired. 
To good society it will make you at all times welcome, render 
you an agreeable and cherished member of it, and enable you to 
derive from it all the benefits it is calculated to afford. And 
from society of an inferior order, it will rarely if ever fail to 
secure to you a becoming degree of civility and respect. Of the 
truth of these positions my own experience has furnished me 
with abundant and conclusive testimony. And if to good- 
breeding be added a strictly moral deportment, manifested by its 
characteristic observances, the power and influence of the two 
will be hardly resistible." 

In the year 1821, I made, in London, in a spirit of wager, a 
very decisive and satisfactory experiment as to the effect of civil 
and courteous manners on people of various ranks and descrip- 
tions. 

There were in the place a number of young Americans, who 
frequently complained to me of the neglect and rudeness experi- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 29 

enced by them from citizens to whom they spoke in the streets. 
They asserted, in particular, that, as often as they requested direc- 
tions to any point in the city toward which they were proceed- 
ing, they either received an uncivil and evasive answer, or no 
answer at all. I told them that my experience on the same sub- 
ject had been exceedingly different ; that I had never failed to 
receive a civil reply to my questions — often communicating the 
information requested ; and that I could not help suspecting that 
their failure to receive similar replies arose, in part at least, if not 
entirely, from the plainness, not to say the bluntness, of their 
manner in making their inquiries. The correctness of this charge, 
however, they sturdily denied, asserting that their manner of 
asking for information was good enough for those to whom they 
addressed themselves. Unable to convince them by words of the 
truth of my suspicions, I proposed to them the following simple 
and conclusive experiment. 

Let us take together a walk of two or three hours in some of 
the public streets of the city. You shall yourselves designate to 
me the persons to whom I shall propose questions, and the sub- 
jects also to which the questions shall relate; and the only restric- 
tion imposed is, that no question shall be proposed to any one 
who shall appear to be greatly hurried, agitated, distressed, or in 
any other way deeply preoccupied in mind or body, and no one 
shall speak to the person questioned but myself. 

My proposition being accepted, out we sallied, and to work we 
went ; and I continued my experiment until my young friends 
surrendered at discretion, frankly acknowledging that my opinion 
was right, and theirs, of course, wrong ; and that, in our passage 
through life, courtesy of address and deportment may be made 
both a pleasant and powerful means to attain our ends and gratify 
our wishes. 

I put questions to more than twenty persons of every rank, 
from the high-bred gentleman to the servant in livery, and re- 
ceived, in each instance, a courteous, and, in most instances, a 
satisfactory reply. If the information asked for was not imparted, 
the individual addressed gave an assurance of his regret at being 
unable to communicate it. 

What seemed most to surprise my friends was, that the indi- 
vidual accosted by me almost uniformly imitated my own man- 



30 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

ner. If I uncovered, as I usually did in speaking to a gentleman, 
or even to a man of ordinary appearance and breeding, he did 
the same in his reply; and when I touched my hat to a liveried 
coachman or waiting-man, his hat was immediately under his arm. 
So much may be done, and such advantages gained, by simply 
avoiding coarseness and vulgarity, and being well-bred and agree- 
able. Nor can the case be otherwise. For the foundation of 
good-breeding is good-nature, and good-sense; two of the most 
useful and indispensable attributes of a well-constituted mind. 
Let it not be forgotten, however, that good-breeding is not to be 
regarded as identical with politeness ; a mistake which is too fre- 
quently, if not generally committed. A person may be exceedingly 
polite without the much higher and more valuable accomplish- 
ment of good-breeding. But to return from this digression. 

3. A third reason why I have assumed the responsibility of 
writing this work^is, not only a hope, but also a belief, that it 
will be more or less useful to those who may peruse it. Indeed, 
to whatever extent the allegation may be construed into self-con- 
ceit and self-praise, I do not hesitate to assert that it will most 
certainly be useful in no inconsiderable degree, provided the pro- 
per application be made of its contents. It is composed, in part, 
of the matured and selected fruit of long-continued and oft-re- 
peated observation and experience ; and, I need hardly say, that 
fruit of that description, unless entirely neglected, misunderstood, 
or in some other way misused or abused, can never fail to be 
salutary in its influence. 

When, as an inexperienced youth, of an ardent spirit, and a 
high-toned temperament, I myself first embarked on the untried 
ocean of life, with its open turbulence and lurking dangers ; a 
code of directions, physical and moral, as correct and abundant 
as I am willing to persuade myself thjs work contains, in lan- 
guage and example, would have been to me a treasure whose 
value I shall not attempt to compute. It would have been no 
less important to me than is a correct and skilfully executed chart 
to the adventurous young mariner, not yet instructed and sufii- 
ciently disciplined in the school of experience. By apprisino- me 
of the perils of the voyage before me, and exciting my vigilance 
and care to avoid them, it would have saved me from many a 
disaster that befell me ; and being now before the public, I trust 



CHARLES CALDWELL, H. D. 31 

it will serve a like purpose to those who may consult it for in- 
formation and counsel. That it may be the more instructive and 
useful, it is neither overwrought nor fictitious ; it is genuine 
history — the most unerring teacher of man. It contains an ac- 
count of my life in its true character — marked, like the lives of 
other men, with some valuable qualities, and some faulty ones ; 
the latter, with their natural effects, to be avoided, and the for- 
mer imitated as far as they may offer examples or rules of action 
tributary to the production of useful results. And if I mistake 
not, my life, made up as it is of faults and virtues — some points 
to be liked and imitated, and others to be disliked and avoided — 
marked by some incidents, and the temporary conditions pro- 
duced by them fortunate and desirable in their tendency and 
effects, and other incidents, and the conditions resulting from 
them, adverse and undesirable, is calculated, through the relation 
of cause and effect, to give instruction, and shed satisfactory light 
on two points, important to all men, but especially to the young 
and inexperienced ; and they are as follows : — 

Men, neither ignorant, wicked, nor worthless, but of good in- 
tellect, sound morals, and respectable standing, fall into faults 
and difficulties from a thoughtless impulsiveness, and a want of 
resolution and firmness to resist temptation; not through pre- 
meditation and design. They are, therefore, though unfortunate, 
and in some degree culpable, yet comparatively innocent. 

But they must extricate themselves (if they ever be extricated) 
by very different and even opposite means — reflection and steadi- 
ness, moral resolution, calmness, and persevering firmness. Nor 
should it ever be forgotten, that a tithe of the mental penetration, 
labor, and trouble necessary to relieve a man from difficulties 
and dangers into which he has thoughtlessly precipitated himself, 
would, had they been resorted to, have effectually saved him 
from them. In that respect, moral evil and misfortune closely 
resemble corporeal disease ; to prevent them is easy, to cure 
them difficult — often impossible. 

From its oft-repeated connection with the faults and misfor- 
tunes in which men become entangled, I may, with sufficient 
propriety, here observe, that there is perhaps no word in our lan- 
guage that propagates so much error, and, by means of it, does 



32 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

so much mischief, as the term accident. As an excuse for a mis- 
deed, or even a serious injury, it is sufficient to say, that it was 
done by accident — which means, or is intended to mean, that it 
could not have been avoided ; and that hence the commission of 
it bespoke no crime or fault on the part of the individual com- 
mitting it. 

Now, this conception and explanation involve an indirect but 
positive untruth, with all its mischievous and diversified con- 
comitants and consequences. The act, misdeed, misfortune, or 
accident (no matter by what name it is known, or from what 
quarter it comes) might have been prevented by a sufficient de- 
gree of knowledge and care — I mean, a degree of knowledge 
which might have been acquired, and a degree of attention and 
care which might have been bestowed. The author of the evil, 
therefore, has been, by omission, an actual delinquent ; or, by 
commission, an actual transgressor. By intention, ignorance, or 
heedlessness, some natural law, established by the Deity for the 
wise and beneficent regulation of things, and the prevention of 
the mischief consequent on their derangement, has been violated 
or neglected. On the shoulders of some one, therefore, culpability 
rests. Let no natural law be broken, disregarded, or in any way 
contravened, and neither accident nor misfortune, fault nor crime 
will ever occur, to produce any form of either physical or moral 
disorder to detract from the comfort and happiness of sensitive 
beings, and mar the beauty and harmony of creation. For, the 
laws established for the government of the universe, if uniformly 
and fully observed, and allowed to operate without obstruction or 
hindrance, are abundantly sufficient to obviate all occurrences of 
the sort. Either this is true, or creation is not what I believe it 
to be— the perfect product of an all-perfect Being. For, a bein<y 
perfect in all its attributes, can neither do nor meditate things 
defective, or marked by any departure from perfection — 

" Say not, then, man's imperfect — heaven in fault ; 
Say rather, man's as perfect as he ought." Pope. 

In this great truth are involved, not only the highest interests, 
but the very essence of all that is valuable, whether in morality, 
religion, or the common affairs of life. So far, nevertheless, are 
men from making the requisite exertions to carry into effect the 



CHARLES CALDWELL, il. D. 33 

only scheme of action which the doctrine recommends, that very 
few of them, even theoretically, recognize either its truth or its 
importance; yet is no tenet either more veritable and plain, or 
more useful and felicitous. 

■A. Were I to give a fourth reason for having engaged in the 
preparation of the present work, I might represent it as consist- 
ing in the pleasures of retrospection. And to the man, whose 
life has been passed in the active and conscientious discharge of 
his duty, those pleasures are of a high order ; and, provided his 
years are greatly multiplied, and have been wholly devoted to 
enterprise and business, they are proportionably numerous. To 
those persons, moreover, who are correctly informed in relation 
to the ever-changing mental conditions, views, and sentiments of 
man, in his journey through life, it is well known that his enjoy- 
ments are different at different stages of it. 

In the morning of life, the youth looks forward almost exclu- 
sively, through the bright vista of expectancy and hope, and 
feasts in imagination on little else than anticipated delights. Hu 
has not yet learned practically the business of retrospection; be- 
cause his stores of the past are but scantily filled ; and even on 
the articles they contain he sets comparatively but little value, in 
consideration of the fact that events have hitherto passed too 
lightly and fleetly over him either deeply to impress or perma- 
nently to interest him. 

In the meridian of life, man derives his enjoyments from all 
things around him ; because his engagements direct his attention 
to them all, and give him an interest in them. His schemes of 
business induce him to look on every side — his desire of wealth 
or some more attractive and exciting form of ambition, ahead — 
and his memory, behind, that he may treasure up from expe- 
rience the results of the past, for the uses of the present, and the 
wants of the future. 

But of man, at an advanced age, the chief amount of sublunary 
enjoyments is retrospective. Nor can the case with him be other- 
wise. Retired from business — perhaps become unfit for it — be- 
tween him and all schemes of future enterprise and ambition an 
insuperable barrier being interposed, and his desire, as well as 
his ability to engage in them being extinguished — and his inte- 
rest in the transactions and scenes superintended by his junior 
3 



34 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

contemporaries, being also greatly diminished — uuder these cir- 
cumstances, he draws on the past, through retrospection and 
memory, if not for all his enjoyments, certainly for a large pro- 
portion of the most vivid and gratifying of them. And, to no 
small extent, the more distant from him, in point of time, the 
immediate scenes and sources of them are, the more lively is his 
recollection of them, and the more pleasure do the remembrance 
and contemplation of them afford him. Thus do even the sports 
and joys of his childhood, the loves and associations of his youth, 
the tenderer and deeper attachments of his early manhood, and 
the arduous and praiseworthy efforts and successes of his maturer 
years, all in succession, occasionally revisit and salute him, ar- 
rayed in the freshness, and possessed of the impressiveness, which 
originally characterized them. Nor is it the recollection of fortu- 
nate and agreeable occurrences only that now give him pleasure. 
Far otherwise. The retrospect of the dangers that have threat- 
ened, and the disasters that have befallen him, and of the manner 
in which he conducted himself in the midst of them, is often a 
ground of abundant delight to him. To the truth of this, my 
own experience amply testifies. To some of the most perilous, 
and apparently, at the time, the most hopeless occurrences and 
scenes of my life, I now look back with a degree of pleasure 
scarcely to be surpassed. Nor is this delight the result merely 
of my escape from danger. It arises (as far as I can judge) 
almost entirely from sundry memorable and impressive incidents 
which occurred at the time. The pleasure derived by me, from 
the retrospective contemplation of one ocean-scene of gloom and 
peril, in particular, in which I was concerned, and to which I 
shall more fully advert hereafter, arises in great preponderance, 
from my recollection of the surpassing fortitude, and cheerful 
resignation of a few refined, accomplished, and delicate women, 
who were my associates in danger, and to whom I took occasion 
to offer encouragement, and to render some services, which their 
male connections were too much prostrated by terror and sea- 
sickness to be able to perform. 

Such are some of the enjoyments, which time, unsparing of 
most other things, leaves as a precious treasure, to the man in 
years. And an oft-felt consciousness of the renovated brightness 
and vigor, which a recollection and survey of them are calculated 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M.D. 35 

to impart, have probably bad some influence, in persuading me 
to engage in the composition of my own biography. The em- 
ployment is pleasurable to me. 

Hence the palpable error, so frequently committed, of assert- 
ing, that some one has performed a very important and disin- 
terested action. By no intellectual, reflecting, and benevolent 
man or woman — has such an action ever been performed. Tin 1 
importance and usefulness of an action cannot fail to impart to 
every person of benevolence and reflection, who is acquainted 
with it, a lively interest in it, whether it be performed by him or 
herself or by other persons. 

No thinking and feeling man, therefore, has ever performed, or 
can ever perform an action perfectly disinterested. I do not here 
allude to an interest either pecuniary, political, theological, or 
social. I speak of that instinctive, heart-felt interest, which every 
good and truly benevolent individual necessarily feels in the per- 
formance of a good action. 

In fine, man lives for enjoyment of some sort. And without 
enjoyment he does not wish to live. Ilence, in whatever gives him 
either pleasure or pain, he, from a law of his nature, feels an in- 
terest and cherishes a wish to prevent the latter, and to promote 
the former. The man who, without a moment's thought, plunges 
into a stream, to rescue from death even a drowning enemy, 
feels deeply interested in his attempt, and would be unhappy 
had he neglected it. 

Should any one allege, in consequence of remarks which have 
been heretofore made, that the retrospect of my boyhood and 
youth cannot be in a high degree delightful to me, on account of 
the. very limited number of my earl}' attachments, my reply 
would be to the following effect : Though I have stated those 
attachments to have been few, I have not represented them as 
correspondingly weak and mutable. Far from it. On the con- 
trary, they were peculiarly ardent, powerful, and lasting — the 
more so, unquestionably, because they were few. For it will not 
be denied, that the necessary effect of indefinite or even very 
extensive division is, to diminish and weaken, in things of mind, 
no less certainly than in those of matter. In defence of this 
opinion, reasons believed to be sound and irrefutable may be 
easily offered. 



36 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

It is a principle, not to be controverted, in the philosophy of 
human nature, that each individual of our race possesses a given 
amount of vital strength, including strength of mind, as well as 
of body. In the various forms of exercise and action which 
mark the diversified career of life, this strength is expended 
through sundry channels, and in various ways, under the denomi- 
nation of vital functions. And, all other things being equal, the 
more numerous those channels are, the smaller and weaker must 
of necessity be the current of vital force that passes through 
each of them, because each of them constitutes a part of the 
whole. And so does the current that passes through each of 
them. Hence, when the attachments of an individual, which are 
but particular names for different sorts of vital action, are very 
numerous, they are also correspondingly small, feeble, and muta- 
ble. A general and indiscriminate lover, admirer, or so-called 
friend, therefore, is tantamount to no real admirer, lover, or friend 
at all. He resembles what is denominated a " universal genius," 
a smatterer in many things, but accomplished in nothing. To 
express myself in more homely, but not less significant and cor- 
rectly descriptive language, he partakes too much of a certain 
kind of shallow knowledge-monger, termed a "Jack of all trades 
and master of none." From this truth, the following important 
inference, altogether practical in its character, may be drawn. 

Let him who is bent on the attainment of true distinction, 
standing, and influence, limit his studies and pursuits in number, 
else he will inevitably fail in the accomplishment of the end he 
has in view. To speak in more definite and significant terms : — 

"What is called a " universal genius," is a creation as fabulous 
as the phcenix or the griffin. It exists only in fiction, not in 
reality. No man has ever yet possessed it — consisting, as the 
expression represents it to do, in a fitness for the pursuit and 
attainment of eminence in every sort of knowledge. Whoever 
has, therefore, expended his energy in an attempt to distinguish 
himself in a branch of science, for the study of which he was not 
well qualified, has, by the measure, detracted more or less from 
the distinction he might have acquired, in some other branch, to 
which his qualifications were better suited. 

To this rule the history of our race does not present us with a 
single exception. It is as true of the most highly as of the 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M.D. 37 

moderately and lowly gifted — of Socrates and Plato, Cicero and 
the admirable Crichton, as of any other individuals. Had the 
great Roman orator wasted less of his mental energy in paying 
court to the Muses, he would have bequeathed to us a reputation 
marked by one vanity, and one intellectual weakness the fewer. 
The same may be said of Paracelsus, Vanhelmont, Cardan, and 
others, had they thought and written less about occult science, 
its source and influence — of Cuvier, had he consumed less of his 
time in the consideration and pursuit of affairs of state — and of 
Laplace, had he devoted himself more exclusively to mathematics 
and astronomy, and left to ecclesiastics and casuists the mysteries 
of theology. Each of those personages, by aiming at too many 
attainments and performances, expended a portion of his vital 
strength, as well of his time, in an unprofitable if not an inju- 
rious manner. 

Of nearly all the illustrious men, of whom, as respects their 
studies, 1 have any special knowledge, correctly might I speak to 
the same effect. They have all attempted to shine in some 
degree, if not to attain pre-eminent lustre on too many points; to 
produce, by their individual labors, not one, or even two brightly 
beaming stars ; but a blazing constellation. To this indiscreet 
practice, Newton had the wisdom to come nearer to an exception 
than any other illustrious man. To astronomy, with its imme- 
diately collateral and auxiliary branches of science, he almost 
exclusively confined his researches. And hence his occupancy 
of perhaps the loftiest niche in the temple of true and enduring 
fame, to which man has attained. 

Leibnitz possessed a genius equally as powerful and profound, 
and much more resplendent than that of Xewtoa. But he ex- 
pended it on too many subjects. lie attempted to erect to his 
own fame sundry monuments, each different from all the others, 
while Newton attempted to his fame the erection of but one. 
No wonder, therefore, that the one pyramid of the latter was 
loftier and more magnificent than either of the numerous pyra- 
mids of the former. In confirmation of the sentiment here ex- 
pressed, Newton has left on record the declaration, that if he 
surpassed other men, in any power, it was that of "continued 
and unrelaxing attention to a given subject." 

After these remarks, on the courses pursued by the illustrious 



38 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

•lead, might I venture to speak of myself, I would say, that, on 
the point here referred to, no one can be, as a student, more inju- 
dicious, and more unjust to his reputation and standing in science 
than I have been to mine. Had I confined my studies to a few 
subjects, and bestowed on each of them sufficient attention, I 
might, as I feel persuaded, have done something to distinguish 
myself, and transmit to future times a record of my existence and 
labors, of a much higher and more creditable order, than anything 
now in my power to bequeath to them. 

On the point here referred to, then, let no one follow the ex- 
ample I have set; but let my recorded mismanagement operate 
as a warning of error and mischief, and be carefully avoided.' Let 
every one, whose object it is to be useful and distinguished in 
science and letters, be careful in the preservation of his casual 
thoughts and facts, by recording them in his private journal as 
soon as practicable after their occurrence, concentrate his powers 
and resources on a few subjects, and render, as far as possible, all 
his knowledge in some way subservient to their elucidation, and 
sedulously secure from loss and destruction whatever he may 
write. These latter directions, in particular, if strictly and judi- 
ciously executed, he will find, in the course of his life, extremely 
useful. Though many of an author's publications and manu- 
scripts may be useless to others, each one of them, however light, 
brief, and trivial, may, by judicious policy, be rendered more or 
less important and interesting to himself. 

But I have not yet finished my account of the different means 
and influences which, in my long and somewhat diversified career, 
have aided me in the performance of my intellectual tasks, the 
discharge of my moral duties, the execution of my promiscuous 
enterprises, and the formation of my character, and which will 
give similar aid to other persons, provided they be similarly used 
by them. 

The means and influences here referred to, though different 
from each other in their nature and mode of acting, all co-operated 
to the same end— the production and continuance of unrelaxing 
industry, ambition, and perseverance, and to the increase of know- 
ledge, and other attainments and accomplishments, and of the 
facilities of acquiring them. But, that my remarks may be fully 
understood, and be productive of the amount of usefulness for 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M.D. 39 

which they are intended, and, I trust, not altogether unfitted, I 
find that they must be presented in language more definite and 
explicit. 

The causes to which I have alluded as influencing my conduct, 
and rendering it more meritorious than it would have probably 
been without them, consisted chiefly in certain strong incentives 
to action deemed important and useful, and in a brief code of 
maxims and rules for its government. Many, perhaps most of 
those regulators of conduct were derived by me from books, or 
from the conversation of persons my superiors in years and intel- 
ligence; but, youthful as I was, some of them were the product 
of my own mind, framed out of materials collected by observation 
and experience. It is believed that a record of a few of them 
may be interesting and useful. If they proved beneficial to me 
(and I am confident they did), they may be made, I say, by proper 
usage, to render to others a similar service. 

When but a boy, my pride and restless spirit of rivalry and 
competition induced me to assume it, as at once a principle and 
a rule of action, that whatever of a high and honorable descrip- 
tion and useful result, any boy of my age engaged in the same 
pursuit, and occupying the same rank in life, or perhaps any 
rank, whether higher or lower, had done, or could do, I ought to 
be able also to do, and would do, if possible, should a suitable 
opportunity for the deed be presented. Nor did I ever fail to 
make the effort. 

This sentiment, with the resolution which accompanied it, and 
bestowed on it its practical character, led me into many an ardu- 
ous contest, both mental and corporeal (for both sources of power 
and action were involved in it), some of which were not of the 
most pacific sort, though, as far as I now remember, they never 
amounted to positive battle. The career of high-wrought com- 
petition and struggle thus created, gave to me a degree of activity 
and strength, self-confidence and general efficiency, to which there 
is but little reason to believe I either would or could have attained 
without it. At an early period of my life, the result of this sys- 
tem of self-training made me be regarded as a remarkable boy, 
likelv in manhood to gain influence and distinction. Nor can a 
doubt be entertained that it contributed its share to whatever 
efficiency I may have subsequently manifested, and to the success 



40 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

that may have rewarded my several schemes of enterprise and 
adventure. 

Eespecting one topic, in particular, of no small interest and 
moment, it implanted in me a belief, which is well known to have 
mingled with my sentiments through life, and, as often as called 
for, on suitable occasions, and by suitable occurrences, to have 
characterized my actions. The belief alluded to is, that the na- 
tives of the United States are by nature, to say the least, on a par 
with the natives of any of the countries of Europe ; and that, 
therefore, under similar advantages of education and training, 
they are in all respects their equals, perhaps their superiors, in 
every form of rivalry and contest. , 

At the period referred to, the opinion of the Abbe Saint-Pierre, 
and of certain other fanciful writers, that all the natives of the 
new world, of whatever description, whether of the human race, 
or of similar races of the lower orders of animals, were inferior 
to those of the old world, was, by many individuals of our own 
country, admitted as correct, and gravely defended. In truth, 
among certain classes of our native inhabitants it was, perhaps, 
however degrading and mortifying, and I may confidently add, 
however palpably fallacious, the predominant notion. And by 
emigrants then recently from Europe, it was more especially, and 
at times very impudently asserted and encouraged— indeed, as 
far as my recollection on the subject may be trusted, it was the 
general opinion in the United States ; certainly, its prevalence 
was very extensive. Hence, when, in his Notes on Virginia, 
Mr. Jefferson stated his views in opposition to it, he was believed 
to do so as an American who loved his native land, and defended 
it from motives of pride, as well as interest, rather than as an 
impartial and enlightened philosopher and zoologist. 

In the course of one of the Abbe" Saint-Pierre's animated 
harangues on his favorite notion of the degeneracy and inferiority 
of the men of America, the following ludicrous event took place 
in Paris between him and Dr. Franklin, when the latter gentle- 
man was ambassador near the French Court. That the anecdote 
may have its due point, and be the better understood, it is neces- 
sary to state that the Abbe* was very considerably below, and 
Franklin still further perhaps above, the middle size of man. I 
need hardly add, what the reader will himself immediately per- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, 51. D. 41 

ceive, that the scene was signalized by one of those triumphant 
home-strokes in argumental dexterity in which the great Ameri- 
can was unrivalled. 

At an entertainment given on some public occasion, the two 
philosophers were present; and such was the arrangement (no 
matter whether by accident or design) that the little Frenchman, 
with half a dozen of small Parisians on his right and left, was 
seated on one side of the table, and Franklin, with about an equal 
number of six-feet-high Americans on his right and left, on the 
other side, directly opposite to him. 

Either of his own accord, or more probably by the contrivance 
of Franklin, who was surpassingly dexterous at all sorts of hu- 
morous and good-natured expedients calculated to insure to him 
victory in debate, the Abbe commenced an elaborate and most 
learned descant on the inferiority and degeneracy of animated 
nature in the new world. But at first he confined his remarks 
to the inferior animals. He spoke with great earnestness and 
fluency of the vast pre-eminence, in size and strength, of the ele- 
phant, the rhinoceros, the hippopotamus, the lion, the tiger, and 
the giraffe, of the old world, compared to the same qualities in 
any of the native animals of America; and, as may well be sup- 
posed, he exulted not a little in what he regarded as proof con- 
clusive of the soundness of his hypothesis. 

Here Dr. Franklin very civilly interposed a few words, the 
purport of which was a desire to know whether, in the Abbe's 
opinion, the human race also had degenerated in the new world? 
This the Abbe - felt to be an unwelcome question, embarrassing 
as it was to his long-cherished hypothesis, and bearing, as it did, 
with no light pressure on his courtesy and good-breeding. But 
no matter; nothing was deemed by him either sacred or sound 
which did not, in all respects, accord with his philosophy. With 
every possible expression and manifestation, therefore, of high- 
bred Parisian politeness, he affirmed his belief of the degeneracy 
of man under the deleterious influence of the American climate. 

Frankliu rejoiced at this decision, because it placed the little 
Frenchman completely in his power, and gave to his own ru.se, in 
relation to him, the most perfect success. His reply, therefore, 
which was brief, was to this effect : — 

My opinion, Mr. Abbe", is in opposition to yours. But the ques- 



42 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

tion between us cannot be correctly resolved by words. It is 
not a matter of common argument, but of actual demonstration. 
It can be decided only by observation and comparison. Will 
you, therefore, with the three French gentlemen on each side of 
you, have the goodness to rise from your seats, and stand up, 
while I, and the three Americans on each side of me, will do the 
same, and the company present will favor us with their judgment 
on what they may see ? 

The proposition being accepted, was instantly carried into 
effect. And then were seen, standing erect, on one side of the 
table, seven Frenchmen, each about five feet six or seven inches 
high, and slim in proportion ; and on the other side seven Ame- 
ricans — Franklin himself, whose height was five feet ten or eleven 
inches, being the lowest, while each of his companions was full 
six feet high, and all of them possessed of broad frames and 
swelling muscles. 

A result so inexpressibly ludicrous attracted the eyes and ex- 
cited the merriment of every one present, the waiters themselves 
not excepted. There stood, facing each other, competitors for 
pre-eminence in size (the comparison and decision to be made by 
those immediately around them), seven natives of the Old and 
seven of the New World; the latter so vastly superior in all 
their dimensions as to convert the spectacle into little else than 
a contrast of giants and pigmies. The consequence was that 
there came down on the poor Abbe" an outbreak of irrepressible 
laughter, which, for the time, swept his hypothesis, like chaff 
before the wind, and, in a manner the most significant and deci- 
sive, announced his discomfiture. He bore his defeat, however, 
with perfect good-humor, acknowledged that Monsieur l'Embas- 
sadeur had out-negotiated him, and gained a temporary advantage 
over him, but contended that his opinion was notwithstanding 
correct, and that coming time would secure to him the victory. 

To myself as a boy, at a period not long after that of the event 
just related, there occurred a very favorable opportunity to test 
the truth of the dogma respecting American degeneracy, at least 
so far as boyhood was concerned. And it was eagerly embraced 
and strenuously acted on without delay. 

As pupils in the same school where I was receiving the rudi- 
ments of my education, were six European lads, of about the same 



CIIARLES CALDWELL, M. D. -i-j 

age and size with myself. Of these, three were from Ireland, two 
from England, and one from Scotland. And, so recently had they 
arrived in the country, that neither of them had as yet exchanged 
a shade of the ruddy complexion of his native land for the more 
imbrowned and manly complexion of our Southern States, where, 
as will hereafter appear, I myself had been born, and where I 
then resided. 

Between those youthful Europeans, and about an equal number 
of native Americans (I myself being one of them), very much 
resembling them in size and years, a contest for superioritv soon 
commenced, and was carried on by each party, with great resolu- 
tion, perseverance, and zeal. Nor was it confined to any one kind 
of excellence or accomplishment, but embraced every sort, corpo- 
real and mental, of school -boy and youthful exercises and attain- 
ments. The art of pugilism was alone excluded from the list of 
our sports, on account of its aptness to lead to resentment and 
battle. 

This contest, which our 3-outhful pride raised to such conse- 
quence, as, in our own estimation, to invest it with nationality, 
and render it, in some measure, a second revolutionary struggle — 
this contest, I say, however uncertain in its issue it might have 
been deemed at first, did not long continue doubtful. From its 
very commencement, so successful were the Americans in almost 
every trial of every description, that they soon ceased to consider 
their antagonists as worthy, much less as powerful and formidable 
rivals. And their success and superiority suffered no material 
change, except that of regular increase, until their triumph was 
complete. Not a single European boy, though some of them 
were dexterous and clever, was judged pre-eminent in a single 
point. So uniform was the result of nearly every trial, and to 
such an extent did the discomfiture of the young foreigners pre- 
vail, that the poor lads became dispirited and cowed, and, in their 
pride of both person and country, so deeply mortified as to con- 
template an immediate abandonment of the school. This design, 
however, was met as soon as discovered, and its accomplishment 
prevented, by the more manly and magnanimous of the young 
victors, who promptly took under their protection the vanquished 
party, treated them with marked kindness and respect, and pro- 



-i-i AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

Incited those who were less liberal-minded from exulting over 
them. 

Nor was this the only occasion on which I was engaged in trials 
similar to that just narrated. In at least a dozen of similar in- 
stances have I been concerned daring my youth in like contests 
(for I took measures 'to produce them), and almost uniformly with 
a similar issue. In every trial were the Americans more or less 
triumphant. Hence the opinion, which I formed in boyhood, and 
still retain, because I think it true, that, instead of being a degene- 
rate race, Caucasian natives of the United States are superior in 
natural endowments to their European ancestors. And that the 
same is true of the African race, no one informed on the subject 
can doubt. Those negroes born and reared in this country are, in 
both body and mind, very strikingly superior to their African 
progenitors. And that the male descendants of Englishmen and 
Irishmen born in America generally surpass their fathers in sta- 
ture, is a fact, of the truth of which I have long ago convinced 
myself by actual admeasurement on an extensive scale. 

Hence also, in proportion to the amount of our native popula- 
tion, it is believed that we have had, in the United States, within 
the present century, a larger — I was near saying a much larger 
body of able and distinguished men, than has appeared in any of 
the countries of Europe. But they are chiefly men of active 
business and public affairs — civil and military, mechanical and 
commercial. Our time for distinction in science and letters has 
not yet arrived. But it is approaching, with encouraging rapid- 
ity, and (may its foreshadowing be trusted) promises to be a 
period of unrivalled glory. Notwithstanding the rude and im- 
potent taunts of certain British writers, no other nation has ever, 
under like circumstances, produced, in an equal period, half, per- 
haps quarter as many able and distinguished works of mind, in 
the forms of closet compositions, and public speeches of various 
kinds, as has the United States, within the present century — 
especially within the last twenty-five or thirty years of it. 

It is believed, moreover, that the improved original condition 
of the native American mind has not yet reached its utmost eleva- 
tion — but is still rising and ripening with the progress of time. 
For there is reason, if not for" conviction, at least for strong sus- 
picion, that up to the present period, the constitutions of our 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 45 

native population have not felt and realized the entire effect of 
the ameliorating influences, physical, intellectual, political, and 
moral, which our country possesses, and dispenses to its inhabi- 
tants — I mean that the Caucasian race, or rather the Anglo-Saxon 
variety of it, have not yet inhabited the United States long- 
enough to be thoroughly naturalized and acclimated in it — that 
they have not yet experienced, in their organization, and native 
endowments, all the changes and improvements, which the great 
aggregate of new or modified causes, natural and factitious, con- 
stantly acting on them, especially in the northern temperate zone 
of the New World, is calculated to produce — in a word, that they 
have not yet had time to become thorough-bred natives of the 
country where they have been born, and which they now inhabit. 
Nor will they, in all probability, be thus metamorphosed and ac- 
complished for ages to come. And, until the consummation of 
that change, the complete power, efficiency, and productiveness, 
'corporeal and mental, of the man of America, having never been 
manifested and witnessed, cannot possibly be known. 

Were I asked the reason why I believe in the natural supe- 
riority of the American mind over the mind of Europe, my 
reply would be to the following effect : — 

I believe in the superiority referred to, because, if I mistake 
not, the belief comports with the result of observation — all the 
circumstances of the case being duly considered. 

Waiving this reason, however, my belief rests on another, which 
I consider less disputable. 

The strength and general excellence of the mind depend on the 
size, tone, temperament, and general excellence of the condition 
of the several organs of the brain. This position is as sound and 
tenable, as is that which maintains that the power and efficiency 
of muscles are proportionate to their size, tone, temperament, 
healthfulness, and degree of innervation. And, to every correct 
and enlightened physiologist, this latter truth is as clear and 
satisfactory as is that involving the maxim that " things equal to 
one and the same thing are equal to one another." 

But there exist two classes of causes, one of them called physi- 
cal, and the other moral, which, in their full and fair operation, 
tend as directly and necessarily to give to the organs of the brain 
size, strength, tone, and all the other elements of excellence, as 



46 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OP 

vapor does to rise, and rain-drops and other ponderous bodies to 
descend. Of these causes, the physical ones, consisting chiefly of 
atmospherical air, light, caloric, electricity, water, and food, may 
be regarded as on a par with each other in point of quality and 
quantity, in the New World and the Old. But, in the former 
(the New World), especially in the United States, the case, as re- 
spects the moral causes, is exceedingly different. They consist 
of the various pursuits and employments, modes of enterprise and 
influence, whether civil or military, commercial, naval, or con- 
nected with the arts, which are calculated to give exercise, and, 
as its natural effects, all the elements of activity and excellence 
to the brain. And in comparison with their condition, in every 
other country, they predominate not a little, in amount and value, 
in the United States. 

In this country, such is the nature of our free institutions — I 
mean the boundless facility and encouragement they afford to 
ambition and enterprise of every description, with all their con- 
comitants (our social condition being in perfect harmony with 
them) — that the human brain experiences, among us, vastly more 
of excitement and exercise, than it does among any other people 
on earth. And that excitement and exercise, T say, adds to the 
size and strength of the brain, and augments its excellence, as the 
organ of the mind, with as much certainty, as does a like condi- 
tion of action increase the size and strength of the blacksmith's 
arm, and of the lower limbs of the pedestrian, and the opera 
dancer. Of actual necessity, therefore, if the mind of the United 
States be not, by nature already superior to that of any other 
nation (which I believe it to be), it must become so, in the pro- 
gress of time. It may be erected into a maxim, and safely re- 
garded and acted on as such, that, all other things being equal, 
the greater amount of national freedom Avhich any civilized people 
enjoy, the greater will be the strength, the wider the grasp, and 
the higher the tone and standing of their minds. I mean, of 
course, their minds, as fashioned by the hand of nature, independ- 
ently of the effects of education. And being, like all other con- 
stitutional qualities, hereditary, native mental superiority becomes, 
in time, a settled and permanent national characteristic. 

Am I asked by what means a man may increase the power and 
activity of his native mental faculties ? I answer by augmenting 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 47 

the size, and raising to a higher order the tone and temperament 
of the cerebral organs, to which the mental faculties, whose im- 
provement is required, belongs. And the requisite increase in the 
size, temperament, and tone of the organs referred to, can be easily 
effected by suitably exercising them. Employ them in action, 
judiciously and skilfully, as respects time and degree, each on its 
appropriate object — and the work is done. Under such treat- 
ment, the cerebral organs are certainly improved in power, readi- 
ness, and adroitness of action, as muscles and joints are, under 
similar training. 

These remarks lead me, with sufficient directness, to offer a 
few thoughts on the truth and importance of the apothegm, that, 
where nature alone makes one individual a man of great distinc- 
tion and usefulness, education and training make thousands. In- 
deed, it would be virtually true to assert, that education and 
training alone actually produce great distinction and usefulness ; 
while, at furthest, nature does nothing more than lay the founda- 
tion for them, by bestowing on men the requisite capacities. 

Dr. Priestley was in the habit of offering himself as, at once, an 
illustration and proof of the truth of this position. Often has he 
assured me, in presence of other young men,' by way of encourage- 
ment, that all his ascendency in science and letters over those who 
had been his school and college fellows, he owed to his ascend- 
ency over them in industry and perseverance in study. In his 
own plain and rather homely language, he frankly declared, that 
some of his fellow-students were "smarter lads" than he was, and 
could do more in a given time ; but that, during the long English 
school and college vacations, they bestowed their time on mere 
sports and amusements, or spent it in idleness; while, during the 
same periods, he lost not from his studies, of some sort, so much 
as a single day. And no sooner were their college and university 
courses ended, than their philosophical and general literary studies 
were also ended; while his own were but little more than fairly 
begun. From an ardent love and insatiable thirst for knowledge, 
he still devoted to the cultivation of the field- of it just referred 
to, a given portion of his time, and appropriated the remainder 
to the study of a profession, or of some new department of science. 
The results of those different modes of proceeding b}- young 
Priestley and his late fellow-students, were themselves equally 



48 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

different. The latter gentlemen, who had abandoned scientific 
studies, necessarily retrograded, and lost much of what they had 
previously learned; whereas the former one, who perseveringly 
adhered to them, made still further progress in them, and thus, 
by a compound gain, left far in his rear all who had been at first 
alongside of him, and probably some who had been, at one timet 
in advance of him. The final issue was, what must always more 
or less ensue in such cases, that he became the illustrious philo- 
sopher, enlarging by his labors, to a vast extent, the boundaries 
of science, and by his writings, replete with original matter, 
instructing every portion of the civilized world in which a taste 
for science had been awakened; while the less industrious and 
ambitious associates of his early years loitered through life in 
comparative idleness, toiled along in professional mediocrity, or 
made their way in some other condition more obscure and less 
creditable. 

Now, though I am far from contending that all the industry 
and perseverance they could have practised would have moulded 
each of those individuals into a Priestley ; yet, I do contend, that 
a steady and strenuous course of the kind would have brought 
them much nearer to such a model than they ever approached, 
and might have rendered them, in some of the walks of life con- 
genial to them, even distinguished men, and benefactors of their 
race. 

Might I again refer to the course and incidents of my own life, 
and their consequences, I would say, that most of what I have 
accomplished, beyond the attainments and achievements of the 
acquaintances of my youth (and the surplus is not inconsiderable), 
has been the result of my superior ambition, industry, and per- 
severance. The following anecdote of my youth tends to the 
confirmation of this truth, and shows how resolute and aspiring 
was my spirit, and how lofty my aim, at that early period. In 
the course of the first winter of my attendance on the lectures in 
the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania, the 
late Dr. Blythe, then a clergyman, who had settled in Lexington, 
Kentucky, visited Philadelphia with a view to the procurement 
of pecuniary contributions toward the erection and establishment 
of what was first the Lexington, or Kentucky Seminary, but 
was afterwards merged in Transylvania University. I asked him, 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 49 

as an acquaintance, to accompany me to a lecture by Dr. Rush, 
who was then in the zenith of his life and celebrity. 

Seated by my side, and seeing me deeply absorbed in listening 
and taking notes, Blythe said to me, in an undertone: " I suppose, 
from your earnestness and industry, that you intend to be your- 
self a professor hereafter?" My reply, as my interrogator, during 
his subsequent lifetime frequently stated, was equally prompt and 
decisive: "Yes, sir; I shall never be satisfied until (pointing 
earnestly toward the lecturer) I be seated in that chair, or in one 
equal to it." And I was in earnest ; not in either a banter or a 
jest. Nor did the ambition, which was already kindled, cease to 
burn in me, with the uninterruptedness of a vestal fire, until it 
was gratified. And, had it not been for an unlooked-for and insu- 
perable combination of adverse circumstances, I should have 
occupied the very chair which had been filled by Dr. Rush; and, 
in that case, never perhaps have seen the Mississippi Valley. 

Bat my view of the matter in question (however manly and 
independent it may be held by persons of old-school sentiments 
and habits, and in whatever degree it may be accounted abstract- 
edly and morally correct) was, as the issue demonstrated, indis- 
creet and impolitic, in its relation to success. Young men, there- 
fore, who are competitors for office or place, will not be likely, 
during this era of artifice and intrigue, to enhance the probability 
of their attaining their object by adopting it as a truth, and 
sternly adhering to it as a rule of action. By this remark, how- 
ever, I do not mean to condemn it as a departure from rectitude. 
Far otherwise. It bespeaks an adherence to that attribute, and 
ought to be a rule of action by both candidates and electors ; 
and, where honor, honesty, and competency prevail and direct, it 
is the rule with both. 

But I have not yet made known to the reader what the view 
entertained by me on the subject, and to which reference has 
been made, actually was. That he may judge of it for himself, 
then, it shall be now stated, and is as follows : — 

I both hoped and believed, that, provided I should make such 
acquirements in medical science, medical history, and their colla- 
teral branches, in general literature, especially in Belles-Lettres 
composition, and in the art of public speaking, as to be able to 
present, with respect to those accomplishments, a stronger claim 
4 



50 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

to the chair in question than any other candidate, and an equal 
one in reference to all else pertaining to fitness of standing and 
character ; I felt persuaded (or at least endeavored to feel so), 
that, under the circumstances, the Trustees of the University of 
Pennsylvania would regard it as their duty to elect me to the 
chair as soon as it should become vacant. 

In this, however, I was mistaken. Dr. Chapman, possessed of 
more tact than I had, at least than I chose to employ, even when 
so much was at stake, conciliated the good-will and favor of the 
Board of Trustees ; and the chair was bestowed on him ; notwith- 
standing the almost universal admission, that my qualifications 
for it were not a little superior to his. I presented, moreover, to 
pupils a much better example than he did, in relation to industry 
and perseverance in study. For, in relation to that highly and 
justly distinguished gentleman, it is and has been known, during 
his whole life, that he is an irregular student — or rather, that he 
cannot be correctly said to be a student at all. He is not even 
an extensive reader of original works, but depends for his know- 
ledge of them almost entirely on reviews, united to conversations 
with those who have perused them. By nature he is abundantly 
gifted with intellect, acquires knowledge from books and other 
sources with uncommon facility, and, as a man, ranks with the 
most high-minded and honorable of our race. 

Were it not, moreover, for the nasal twang of his voice, he 
would be pre-eminently eloquent ; and even with that vocal de- 
fect, he ranks with the most eloquent teachers of the day ; I shall 
further add, that, after his elevation to the chair, he had the can- 
dor to acknowledge that he was more indebted, for his success, 
to the friendship of the Board of Trustees, than to any other 
cause. 

One reminiscence more on the subject. To show Professor 
Chapman's opinion, at the time, of my qualifications to teach, 
truth warrants me in stating the following facts. And I make 
the statement with no design to insinuate that the Professor was 
not capable of making himself his arrangements for teaching. 
Far from it. He was capable — abundantly capable. But he had 
not yet made them. 

To aid him, therefore, in the duties of his chair, I wrote and 
published, at his request, my Notes on Culhn's Outlines, to which 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 51 

he subsequently, for several years (I know not how many) re- 
ferred as the text-book of his lectures. 

I also furnished him with manuscript lectures, which I had 
prepared for my own use, on " General Pathology." Those he 
returned to me ; and they are now in my possession. 

During the first winter of his labors in the chair which had 
been occupied by Dr. Eush, I likewise composed for him the out- 
lines of his Lectures on eruptive diseases. 

I repeat, that I have made this statement, not in disparage- 
ment of Professor Chapman (who is one of the most distinguished 
medical teachers of the day), but as a reminiscence of the con- 
nection which subsisted between him and myself; and of the 
favorable opinion he entertained of my qualifications as a medi- 
cal teacher, a scholar, and a writer. 

From an early period of my life I was actuated by a form of 
ambition, and a love of disquisition and mental contest, which 
not only marked in me somewhat of a peculiarity of native mind 
and spirit, but tended also to strengtben them. 

I never read a book of any description, without making, from 
the beginning to the end of my perusal of it, a continued effort 
to detect errors and faults in it, and to determine how, in my 
own view, they might be corrected and amended. This was the 
case very especially in relation to poetic productions, and to 
works on the philosophy of nature, as she presents herself in the 
phenomena and general economy of our globe. And even in 
reading novels, romances, and other forms of moral fiction, I 
rarely failed to fancy, that, in their trying toils, perils, and ad- 
ventures, the heroes and heroines of the story behaved, in some 
way, improperly ; and that, had I been in their places, I would 
have acted differently, and to better effect. 

That this turn of mind, and its consequent course of action 
were and are equivocal, in their tendency and effects, producing a 
mixture of good and evil, cannot be denied. While they create 
in those whom they actuate, a disposition, when reading, to observe 
and remember, examine and compare, with more accuracy than 
would otherwise be practised by them, they carry the spirit and 
habit of doubting so far as to make an approach to settled skepti- 
cism, if they do not actually terminate in it. 

Not only does a course of this kind surpass every other mode 



52 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

of inquiry and research, in producing a strict attention to the 
book of nature, and awakening a high veneration for its contents, 
with which those of all works from the press are diligently and 
faithfully compared; it proves the cause of a comparative if not 
a complete indifference toward the contents of the latter sort of 
books; unless they are found on a thorough comparison, to corre- 
spond in all respects with those of the former. The slightest 
difference between them causes, as it ought to do, an immediate 
discredit and rejection of the doctrines, systems, and theories con- 
tained in even the most favorite and popular productions of the 
human pen. 

From the action and influence of the causes just referred to, so 
powerful, in many cases, does a predilection for the direct evidence 
and authority of nature become, as to throw more or less into dis- 
paragement and disbelief, not only all things deemed unnatural, 
or supernatural, but even such as are only unaccountable and 
wonderful. Hence, the well-known fact that a mental habit of 
the kind I am considering, which, at first, is but incredulity and 
doubt, is often strengthened and ripened into actual infidelity. 

That, in the opinion of some of my connections, this view of 
the subject came too near being verified, in relation to myself, is 
not to be denied. For I did not refrain from scrutinizing, and 
even criticizing certain portions of the Old and New Testaments, 
and comparing them with and testing them by what has been 
correctly termed the "Elder Kevelation," (the Word of God, 
spoken through the works and ways of nature,) any more than I 
refrained from doing the same with productions altogether human. 
Nor, resolved as I was on fair and impartial criticism, and through 
that, on the disclosure and defence of truth alone, do I think that, 
in the course I pursued, there was anything incorrect, or in the 
slightest degree blameworthy. On the contrary, I contended in 
my youth, and still contend, that of those doctrines and creeds 
believed to be connected with our everlasting condition, the sound- 
ness and purity ought to be more thoroughly and unsparingly 
scrutinized and tested, than should those of beliefs and opinions 
of a less solemn and important nature. Such appears clearly to 
me to be the decision of reason and common sense, however much 
fanatics and bigots may condemn and denounce it. The weightier 
a creed is, and the more essentially it is believed to involve our 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. T>. 53 

endless happiness or misery, the more cautiously should it be 
adopted and relied on, and the more conclusive should be the evi- 
dence by which it is sustained. 

Allied in character to my disposition to detect and expose the 
errors of opinion, and the falsity of reputed facts recorded in 
books, was another quality which I possessed, and habitually 
manifested, in debating societies. It was a propensity to array 
myself in discussion, on what I knew, or at least on what was 
believed to be the wrong side of the question under consideration, 
in order the more certainly to produce discussion, by my advocacy 
of a paradox, and make a show of my ingenuity and ability, in de- 
fence of error. For I contended that error alone required inge- 
nuity and ability in its defence — truth being susceptible of defence 
by an exposition of facts so plain and simple as to be quite feasi- 
ble to the most common abilities. 

In consequence of my indulgence of this ambidextrous turn 
and power of mind, active and animated discussion was rarely, if 
ever, wanting in a debating society, when I was present. And 
thus were intellectual adroitness and vigor necessarily acquired 
by speaking members, beyond what they would have possessed, 
had the practice referred to never been introduced. And, at 
times, perhaps, the truth of some controvertible point was 
rendered more obvious than it would have been had not the con- 
troversy been held. Of the course pursued by me, such were 
some of the advantages. 

But that course had also its counter-column of disadvantages. 
not only to others, but also to myself. 

In the view of those members whose minds were neither very 
clear, nor vigorous and discriminating, truth was not unfrequently 
rather obscured than brightened, by the sophistry employed, the 
cause of error temporarily strengthened, and its mischievous 
accompaniments and consequences more widely diffused. 

Nor on myself did that influence promise to be altogether harm- 
less. I either discovered or fancied, after a time, that if my actual 
perception of truth was not impaired, my sacred regard for it was 
likely to be shaken and unsettled, the fervor of my zeal to distin- 
guish it from error perhaps somewhat abated, and my resolu- 
tion, in all cases, to aid in defending it diminished. 

Nor was this the whole amount of the mischief that threatened 



54 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

me. I farther discovered that a young man, of a lively and 
ardent imagination, and an inventive and ingenious mind, may 
take ground in debate on the side of a contested point, which he 
knows to be unsound and indefensible, and yet in the course of a 
few earnest discussions of it, by the very witchery of his own 
sophistry, seduce himself into the belief that it is founded in 
truth. In plain terms, that he may, to use a common and homely 
form of expression, "make the wrong side of a question appear 
to be right," not only to others, but even to himself. 

No sooner were these discoveries made, their truth established, 
and the entire compass of their prejudicial effects detected, than 
I abandoned the defence of known error, and resolved, during the 
remainder of my life, to defend in discussion no position not 
believed by me to be true. And such is the only course which 
honesty and sound morals permit us to pursue. Since the date, 
moreover, of my resolution on the subject, to that course I have 
strictly adhered. 

With this, I close my perhaps unwisely protracted series of 
preliminary remarks. To the intelligent and attentive reader, 
the fact itself is too plain to render it necessary for me to acknow- 
ledge it, or even refer to it, that they are desultory, without sys- 
tem, and, in many places, without much affinity between topics, 
which the narrative brings into immediate connection. 

Notwithstanding these faults, however, I am unwilling to resign 
the belief, already stated with sufficient confidence, that they con- 
tain matter worthy to be examined, reflected on, treasured up, 
and practically employed, by the youthful and aspiring, as awa- 
keners of praiseworthy sentiment, suggesters of correct thought, 
and safe and useful guides of action in the multifarious pursuits 
and transactions of life. 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 



CHAPTER I. 

My ancestral name — Whence derived — Uncle Davy — My father — My mother's fa- 
mily — Col. Murray — His exploits — My birth — Mecklenburg County, North Caro- 
lina — Go to school — My teachers — Progress — Begin Latin — Build a log study — 
Lose my parents — Teach in an academy — Remove to another — Resolve to study 
medicine. 

Of my ancestral connections I shall say but little, because my 
knowledge of them is very limited, and, even of that which I pos- 
sess, no inconsiderable proportion is traditionary, rather than his- 
torical. May a time-worn family legend be credited, they were, 
on the paternal side, of French descent; and their original name 
was Colville. At a remote period, as the legend informs us, three 
brothers of that name rendered themselves conspicuous, and, of 
course, very obnoxious, in some forbidden adventure of state. So 
far did they carry their reputed crime as to incur by it a liability 
to capital punishment. In consecprence of this they were out- 
lawed, and a price was set on each of their heads. An attempt 
being made to arrest them, one of them fell in defending himself; 
while the other two, escaping uninjured, fled to Great Britain, 
which they chose as their future home ; the elder settling in Eng- 
land, and the younger in the north of Ireland. From those two 
brothers, whose name, either immediately, for concealment, or 
slowly, by the mutation which time produces on proper names, 
as well as on other forms of arbitrary speech, have sprung all the 
Caldwells of the British isles, and their numerous descendants in 
the United States. 

Such is the tradition. For its authenticity I hold myself in no 
other light responsible than that of having recorded it substan- 
tially as I received it in a letter, addressed to me nearly fifty 
years ago, by a very venerable paternal uncle, then at his heredi- 
tary home, in the north of Ireland. As reminiscences of various 
sorts are to make a portion of the book I am writing, I hope I 



56 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

shall be indulged, by the courteous reader, in introducing a few 
respecting my kinsman, who, whatever niche he might have occu- 
pied in the temple of fame, was far from being either a common 
or an insignificant personage. Be it borne in mind, however, 
that I never saw him, and must, therefore, draw on report (a sad 
deceiver, in many cases, though not so, I believe, in the present 
one) for all I purpose to say in relation to him. The record I am 
about to make is deemed the more appropriate to my present 
purpose, as it serves to show, to a certain extent, " what sort of 
stuff my ancestral family was made of." For he, of whom I am 
about to speak, was not, in many of his uncommon qualities, 
greatly dissimilar to several of his kinsmen. 

Uncle Davy, as he desired and delighted to be familiarly called 
by all his kindred (no matter what might be their real relation- 
ship to him), but Sir David Caldwell, (the name which he re- 
ceived from everybody else), was an Ajax in personal strength 
and courage, and, when opposed and chafed, scarcely inferior to 
that hero in fiery resentment and steadfastness of purpose. Yet 
was he, when properly approached and addressed, as flexible in 
yielding and following, as he was, under the influence of opposite 
circumstances, stubborn in resistance, intractable in resolution, 
and positive in command. While no form of danger from assail- 
ants, however powerful and formidable, could move him, except 
to repel or return it, a kind word, a mild entreaty, and a suppliant 
look, from the feeble and unprotected, were sufficient to lead him 
to any reasonable concession or act of beneficence in his power. 
To what I have already said of him, I need hardly add, that 
he was a stanch monarchist, patriot, and aristocrat; prepared, 
at all times, to fight and fall for his king, country, and paternal 
inheritance. 

There was but one branch of science in which Sir David was 
thoroughly skilled, and that was heraldry. In it he took great 
delight, and was proud of his attainments in it. 

As far as I am informed on the subject, he was the only de- 
voted and thorough-bred genealogist that ever belonged to the 
Caldwell family. But his devotedness and love toward it were, 
in ardor and amount, altogether sufficient for scores of families. 

That he might trace the Caldwell genealogy up to the very 
root of that of the Colville family, he made a voyage to France, 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 57 

and spent a year in travelling through Normandy, the reputed 
place of residence of his ancestors, and in ransacking heraldic 
libraries, and poring over huge antiquated tomes with which 
they furnished him, before he condescended to pay a visit even 
to Paris. And when at length he made his visit, it was not to 
admire and enjoy the beauties of that metropolis, but to examine, 
on a broader scale, repositories of heraldry. 

During this sojourn in France, Sir David collected materials, 
out of which he constructed a spacious genealogical map of the 
Caldwell and Colville family, which was proudly suspended in 
the great hall of his ancestral castle. 

At the period of Sir David's youth, all the young gentry in 
Ireland were carefully trained iu the use of arms. In sword- 
manship, the most fashionable and elegant branch of the art, he 
became peculiarly dexterous and celebrated. In the use of the 
broad, as well as of the small sword, his surpassing strength and 
activity, united to great acquired skill, the uncommon length and 
quickness of motion of his arm, and a degree of fearlessness and 
self-possession which nothing could appall or disturb, rendered 
him, as was believed, unequalled in his clay. Even the admirable 
Crichton, admitting the truth of all that has been reported of him, 
was scarcely his superior. He never himself gave a formal chal- 
lenge to combat, and never declined acceptance of one when re- 
ceived. He was twice summoned to meet a champion with the 
small sword, and each time disarmed his antagonist, and took 
possession of his sword. 

In matters of money, Uncle Davy was, at times, so utterly self- 
inconsistent that he seemed to have two minds, the very opposites 
of each other. When under the influence of one of them, his 
pecuniary outlays were wantonly extravagant, and, under that of 
the other, he was a miser. Of the matchless restrictiveness of the 
latter he made one manifestation, which, among many others, 
deserves perhaps to be recorded. 

Having no very exalted opinion of physicians, he was always, 
when indisposed, his own doctor. On one occasion, being more 
than usually deranged in health, he sent to an apothecary, pur- 
chased from him some medicine and directions for taking it, and 
began its use; but so unsuitable was it to his case and constitu- 



58 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

tion, that each succeeding dose rendered him worse and worse, 
until his condition became alarming. 

Under these circumstances, his friends and household entreated 
him to desist from taking the medicine, and call in a physician ; 
but he refused to do either, declaring that he could not afford to 
throw away a heavy sum of money on the drugs of an apothe- 
cary (perhaps half a crown), and that he was therefore resolved 
to swallow them to the last drop and grain, be the consequence 
what it might. And he did so, unmoved by the distress, and, 
for once, even by the tears of those around his sick-bed, notwith- 
standing his customary sensibility and ready concession to that 
form of appeal. But he fortunately recovered, according to his 
own account of the matter, " naewithstanding the pooshen of 
the apothecary and his ain crookit temper;" and then bound 
himself by a promise " neer again to gie grief to other folk 
better than himsel, by acting like a spoiled brat for sae silly a 
raison." 

Though the practice of deep table-drinking was universal, in 
his day, among the gentry of Ireland, Sir David was, notwith- 
standing, in person, a man of exemplary temperance. Never, in 
either body or mind, was he known to falter or lose his pro- 
priety, from the influence of wine. Nor did he waste his time 
unnecessarily at table. Leaving his friends and guests in the 
banquet-room to their enjoyment of the joke, the song, and the 
wine-goblet, he betook himself to the regulation of some of the 
concerns of his estate and his tenantry, or to the benefit and 
pleasure of exercise and amusement in the open air. 

Such was Uncle Davy (alias Sir David Caldwell), a high-bred 
gentleman ; who, notwithstanding the oddities and foibles which 
made part of his character, was the pride of his family and the 
idol of his tenants ; who never forgot or deserted a friend, nor 
yielded to an enemy ; who was regarded during his life, and is 
probably remembered even now, as the advocate, at least, if not 
the guardian of the upright and the orderly, and as the terror 
always, and at times the avenger of evil-doers, within the sphere 
of his action. 

Another peculiarity of Sir David was his uncommon longevity. 
The precise age to which he attained I have not been able to 
learn, but have reason to know that it amounted to at least one 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 59 

hundred and ten years — I think, to somewhat more. Nor am I 
informed to a certainty, of the time of his death. The event 
occurred, however, not far from the year 1810. Neither am I 
accurately apprised of the manner and circumstances of his de- 
cease. Intelligence, however, received many years ago, from an 
Irish gentleman, who had some knowledge of him, gives me 
ground to believe that he died of an acute disease, having been 
spared almost entirely, notwithstanding his vast accumulation of 
years, the infirmities and disabilities of centenarian age. • 

Supposing Sir David's genealogical account of our ancestors to 
be correct, I am a descendant of the younger branch of the Col- 
ville family. But, whether correct or not, I am of pure Hibernian 
descent, my father and mother having been natives of the county 
Tyrone, and province of Ulster, in the north of Ireland ; from 
which they emigrated in 1752 — the year in which the calendar 
was changed from old style to new. 

My father being a younger son, received but a slender inheri- 
tance, in the expenditure of which there is reason to believe he 
was not very sparing. Lie bore, in his youth, a lieutenant's com- 
mission in the royal service, where, on one or two occasions, he 
so distinguished himself, as to attract the favorable notice of his 
commander, and, more flattering to him still, of Sir David, his 
elder and wealthier brother, who did not fail to declare his con- 
viction that "that spendthrift young dog, Charley, if he did not 
break his neck in some of his freaks, or fall in a duel, or be killed 
in some other mad-cap affray, would yet become a general — 
ay, and a brave one, too." The young lieutenant, notwithstand- 
ing his wildness and extravagance (which, however, he afterward 
abandoned), possessed indeed many qualities well fitted to excite 
and secure the attention and regard of a man like Sir David. 
Besides having proved himself one of the most gallant of soldiers, 
he was a youth of uncommon personal comeliness, activity, and 
strength, a bold and elegant horseman, and, like his elder brother, 
and for the same reasons, surpassingly expert in the use of the 
sword — the broad as well as the small — and on horseback as well 
as on foot. In proof of the correctness of these latter remarks, 
I myself saw him, when very near his seventieth year (I being a 
small boy), attacked by two young cowards (such they must 
have been) on horseback, each armed with a cutlass, he on foot, 



60 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

and having no weapon of defence but a young bark-covered 
hickory-stick, which he carried as a cane— as a staff, he did not 
yet need it. With that he instantly disarmed the young ruffian, 
who, having dismounted from his horse, first approached him, 
snatched up his fallen sword, and instead of cutting him down 
with it, as he at first intended, turned the blade, as it descended 
with great force, gave him with the side of it so severe a blow on 
the head, as to prostrate and stun him ; and then, rushing on the 
•>ther, who had also dismounted, put him to immediate flight. 
lie then took possession of the two horses (a couple of young 
kinsmen having come to his assistance), and quietly led them 
(unmoved by the remonstrance and entreaty of the discomfited 
knights, who, in deep mortification, followed him) to a neighbor- 
ing village, that the adventure, as he said, might be terminated 
in the presence of a sufficient number of substantial witnesses. 
Having reached the place, and collected around him a number of 
persons, some of them looking grave, others laughing, and all 
wondering what was about to be clone, he formally restored the 
captured horses and sword, utterly disgracing their cowardly 
owners, by a circumstantial recital of the preceding scene. 

My mother was also of a family of highly reputable standing, 
but of no wealth, being a descendant (in what degree of consan 
guinity I know not) of Colonel Murray, who acquired great and 
lasting renown, during the famous siege of Londonderry, in the 
year 1688-9, by sundry feats in arms, but especially by meeting, 
on a challenge given and accepted in the field of battle, and kill- 
ing, in single combat, Lieutenant-General Maimont, the most 
celebrated and heroic warrior in the besieging party — or indeed 
in the entire army of King James. The event had in it so much 
of the clashing and romantic chivalry of former times, as to de- 
serve a brief descriptive notice. 

The two champions commanded each a resplendent regiment 
of cavalry, in the hostile armies, and took part in the celebrated 
battle of Pennyburn Mill, just without the walls of Londonderry. 
Being the two most bold and gallant horsemen, as well as, 
from their splendid attire and high bearing, the two most con- 
spicuous officers in the field, they necessarily attracted the atten- 
tion of each other, in the movements of the day. Twice 
moreover they met, either by design or accident, exchanged and 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 61 

parried a few cuts, with their swords (perhaps to try their mu- 
tual dexterity and mettle), and then swept triumphantly on in the 
tumult of action, staining their blades in less generous blood. 

Their third meeting was on a challenge from Colonel Murray, 
in which it was formally stipulated that, though in the field of 
battle where death was around them, and between two armies 
as anxious spectators, they were to try their prowess and skill in 
arms alone, unaided by friends and undisturbed by foes. 

One extract from a contemporary rhymer, though rather turgid 
and pompous, shows, in very bold and sounding terms, the ex- 
alted estimate set, by the writer, on Colonel Murray and all his 
movements. 

"Next unto thee (Londonderry) thy hero's praise I'll tell, 
Ky whose brave deeds the Irish army fell. 
A.-sist me Muse ! whilst I their praises sing, 
With whose iam'd actions all the world duth ring. 
Hector was by the stout Achilles slain ; 
Thrice his dead corpse around Troy's walls was ta'en. 
The Uatulan king the great ..Eueas slew; 
From David's sling a weighty stone there flew, 
Which sunk the proud Goliah down to hell — 
Dy Murray, Maimont, the French general, fell." — Lib. iii. sect. 1. 

In fine, whoever will look into the productions of his contem- 
porary eulogists, will perceive that those writers represent Colonel 
Murray as scarcely less than the alpha, the lambda, and the 
omega — the beginning, the middle, and the end, of the defence of 
Londonderry against the arms of King James. But to return 
from this episode. 

Some time after his marriage, my father, to whom no very 
promising prospect of early promotion in military rank presented 
itself, soon found his pay, as lieutenant, insufficient to support his 
family, in the style in which he was ambitious to live, under the 
eye of his more opulent relations. And though Sir David cor- 
dially proffered him a home in his castle, when stationed in its 
vicinity, and liberal assistance elsewhere, he was of a spirit too 
proud and independent to accept the offer. He therefore dis- 
posed of his commission, emigrated to America, and settled in 
the (then) province (now State) of Delaware — Newark being the 
place of his immediate residence. Having remained there, for a 
few years, until by industry, frugality, and every other form of 



62 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

prudence and good management he could bring to his aid, he 
had augmented his means to a sufficient extent to justify in him 
another effort to better his fortune ; that effort was immediately 
made. In pursuit, therefore, of the object which constitutes the 
end and aim of civilized man (to improve his own condition, and 
provide for his family), he removed to a tract of country which 
constituted, at the time, the western frontier of the populated 
portion of North Carolina. In that region, which, but a short 
time previously, had been the home of the savage, whose haunts 
and hunting-grounds were still but a short distance remote from 
it, in Orange, now Caswell County, on Moon's Creek, a small 
branch of Dan River, about twenty miles south of the southern 
border of Virginia, he purchased a farm of considerable value, 
erected on it a " log cabin," and there took up his residence. 

In that (then) wild and sequestered spot, on the fourteenth 
day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hun- 
dred and seventy -two,* did I make my advent into this " breath- 
ing world." 

I was the youngest child of a large family, several of whom, as 
I understood, had died before my birth ; and of the remainder 
all but three, two brothers and a sister, died during my boyhood. 
I was also the only child of my parents that was born in a south- 
ern State. To none of my family, my father excepted, did I bear 
any strongly marked resemblance. But as often as I now look 
into a mirror, his image, in advanced life, is vividly before me. 

During his residence in Delaware, my father had been a dealer 
in various articles of merchandise. After his settlement, however, 
in Carolina, he devoted himself chiefly to the cultivation of his 
farm. And, having but few slaves, he, in common with my two 
brothers, during their minority, labored in his fields, in both seed- 
time and harvest, with his own hands. 

I being greatly the junior of my brothers, and also consider- 
ably younger than my sister, and therefore, I presume, the pet of 
the family, was destined from my childhood, for a liberal educa- 
tion. The cause of this destination I am not prepared very posi- 

* Dr. Caldwell having left (at the time of writing this passage) a blank to be 
filled with the exact date of his birth, it has been supplied from an old Bible in 
which his age at the time of his marriage is recorded. — Editor. 



CHARLES CALDWELL, 11. D. 63 

tively to state. It could not have been the influence of the custom 
or fashion of the place in which I was born. On no other boy, 
within ray knowledge, was such an education designed to be be- 
stowed. I alone, within the whole vicinity, was to be a scholar. 

My father's family mansion was neither very large nor very 
commodious. Every room in it was appropriated to some indis- 
pensable domestic purpose. I had, therefore, no apartment in 
which to pursue my studies alone and uninterrupted. And that, 
to me, was a serious grievance. For, though many persons pro- 
fess to study closely and without annoyance, in the midst of noise 
and bustle, such is not the case with myself. I have never been 
able to apply my mind to any investigation or form of thought, 
with either intensity, profit, or satisfaction, much less with plea- 
sure, except in silence, at least, if not also in solitude. 

To remedy this evil, when but a boy, I spent an entire school- 
vacation term, amounting, as just mentioned, in the erection of a 
small but neat log cabin, about twenty paces distant from the 
family dwelling-house. True, I did not erect the entire building 
by my own labor. But I superintended and directed the whole, 
and performed in person no inconsiderable portion of the work. 
I shall never forget how severely I blistered my hands, by the 
helve of the axe, in felling and hewing small and straight young 
white-oak trees, to make logs for my study. But, notwithstand- 
ing the uneasiness produced by the blisters, their stiffening my 
fingers, so as almost to unfit me for using my pen, and the un- 
sightly appearance they communicated to my hands, I steadily 
persevered in my enterprise, until the fabric was completed. 

By the close of the vacation, my homely domicil, just suffi- 
ciently capacious to hold a small bed and table, and a few plain 
rush-bottom chairs, was finished. And in that place of noiseless 
retirement did I spend many a long and lonely night, from 
dark till near daylight, engaged in some form of mental exercise, 
when I was supposed by the family to be reposing on my pillow. 

Such, at this early period of my life, was my ardor in quest of 
knowledge and letters, my determination to attain them, and, if 
possible, to excel in them. And, had I not thus labored, I could 
never have succeeded in any reputable degree in the accomplish- 
ment of my purpose. For this assertion I could render several 
plain and substantial reasons, one of which is as follows: My 



64 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

teachers were miserably deficient in qualifications and means to 
instruct, as well as in industry and conscientiousness to that effect. 
I was compelled, therefore, to depend, in a great measure, on my 
own resources. 

This, however, is a general truth, involving others no less 
than myself. Every person, whatever may be his opportunities, 
must be self-taught, else he is not thoroughly taught at all. 

So rude and letterless, and so lamentably destitute of the 
means and opportunities for education was the tract of country 
in which I was born, that notwithstanding all the exertions my 
father, and a few of his most enterprising neighbors could make, 
no school for me could be procured, until I had completed a por- 
tion (more, I think, than the half) of my ninth year. And to it I 
was obliged to walk a distance of more than three miles, along a 
slight and devious foot or cow-path, through a deep and tangled 
forest, infested by wolves, wild-cats, snakes, and other animals, 
whose relation to man was the reverse of friendliness. But, 
though I occasionally saw those lawless rovers of the forest, they 
neither injured nor annoyed me, nor excited in me the least ap- 
prehension of danger ; or, if I felt a little dread of any of them, 
it was of rattlesnakes, vipers, and moccasons, or yellow-heads, too 
near to some of which I, at times, incidentally trod, with unpro- 
tected feet — in plainer and more significant language — bare- 
footed. For, except during the frosts of winter, and I was 
dressed for some particular purpose, my foot was never incum- 
bered by a shoe ; and I need hardly add, that when equipped in 
shoes, those appurtenances were, in material and structure, suffi- 
ciently homely. 

During the period of my life which I am now describing (and 
to myself it was one of peculiar importance, in its relation as well 
to the development and constitution of my body as to the habits 
of my mind), the following (Sunday excepted) were my daily 
movements: — 

After an early country breakfast, I set out for school, carrying 
with me, for my dinner, a piece of Indian-corn bread and a bottle 
of milk fresh from the cow. This was provision made for my 
body ; nor was I forgetful of a like provision for my mind. As 
tributary to that purpose, I also carried along with me my book 
or books, and in due time my slate and pencil, which I brought 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 65 

Lome with me in the evening as my companions and instructors 
until bedtime, before which period I rarely dismissed them. 

Under these circumstances, I was left free to pursue my own 
course without being disturbed by requests to take any concern 
in the business of the household; an indulgence which contri- 
buted much to my gratification, and not a little to my benefit. 

In the course of my first year at school, I became decidedly 
the best speller and reader in the institution; though several of 
my school-fellows were much older than I was, and had been two 
and three years under tuition. Yet, when I first entered school, 
a bare knowledge of the alphabet constituted my only attainment 
iu letters. Within the year, I also acquired such command of 
my pen as to write a plain, bold, and ready school-boy hand 
(though I have never written an elegant one), and so far mastered 
figures as to pass with credit, and comparative eclat, through the 
elementary processes of arithmetic, and to become expert in the 
solution of questions in the single and double rules of three, as 
well as in the form of calculation called practice ; and, in the 
crude and almost letterless community in which I resided, such 
attainments were regarded as reputable scholarship. 

In less than another year I learned, of my own accord, and in 
my own way, to compose letters, addressed to imaginary cor- 
respondents (for I had no real ones), of which, however, I now 
regret that I never preserved, or even thought of preserving, a 
single composition. For, though not much enamored of whim- 
sies, toys, or any sort of empty curiosities, I confess I should be 
gratified to see one of those crude productions, even a pattern of 
which for imitation I had rarely if ever seen, and toward the 
framing of which I had never received a single suggestion. 
Besides serving as a mirror, reflecting the original cast of my 
mind, before art had done anything to alter it, so remote is the 
period when it was brought into existence, that it might be re- 
garded somewhat in the light of an antique, the growth and relic 
of a foregoing age. 

Nor is all yet told. Added to my attainment in the art of let- 
ter-writing, I had also within the same period (long before the 
end of the second year) acquired all the remaining technical 
school-knowledge (and he possessed no other sort) which my 
teacher could impart to me. 
5 



bb AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

Before the close of my second scholastic year, my father re- 
moved his residence and family from Caswell to that portion of 
Mecklenburg which now forms Cabarrus County, not far from 
the southern border of North Carolina. In that tract of country, 
which was not quite as unenlightened and barren in opportuni- 
ties and means of education as that which he had left, he settled 
for life, and commenced the cultivation and improvement of a 
new and very valuable body of land. 

Here I again entered a common English school, and, in five or 
six months, had the good or bad fortune, according as the case' 
may be considered and construed, to be accounted abetter scholar 
than my teacher. This fact, however, when taken in the abstract, 
and strictly interpreted, spoke but moderately in behalf of my 
scholarship. The standard by which my attainments were mea- 
sured was far from being a lofty one. In plain terms, my teacher 
was again an illiterate, coarse, and conceited empty head ; but 
very little if at all superior to the preceding one, of whom I have 
already spoken. I ought rather to pronounce him inferior ; his 
intellect being in no respect better, and his temper much worse. 
He often severely and vulgarly rebuked boys, and inflicted on 
them at times corporeal punishment, on account of their defici- 
ency in lessons and tasks, which he had shown himself to be 
unable effectually to expound to them. 

Such were the two individuals ; both of them dolts by nature, 
and disgracefully letterless and uninformed, to whose superintend- 
ence my English school education was intrusted. And here that 
course of education terminated. The entire period of it extended 
but little beyond two years ; perhaps to two and a quarter. 

Early in my twelfth year I commenced the study of the ancient 
languages. Here again I led, in part, the life of a forester. The 
school-house, to which I daily repaired, was a log cabin (the logs 
of it unhewn), situated in a densely wooded plain, upward of two 
miles distant from my father's dwelling. And my Dominie (so 
every teacher of Greek and Latin was then denominated) was, in 
some respects, of a piece with the building in which he presided. 
Though not cast in exactly the same mould, he was as odd and 
outre as Dominie Sampson. Yet was he a creature of great moral 
worth, being as single-minded, pure, and upright, as he was eccen- 
tric and unique ; and he had an excellent intellect. To me he 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 67 

was extremely kind and attentive, took boundless pains in my 
instruction, and, in no great length of time, taught me as much of 
Latin and Greek, English composition, and the art of speaking 
(alias declamation), as he knew himself. In "speaking," he taught 
me, or I acquired myself much more ; for, in that accomplish- 
ment, he was lamentably deficient. Nature had irrevocably for- 
bidden him to be an orator. His lips were so thin and skinny, 
tight-drawn, yet puckered over a set of long projecting teeth 
(making his mouth resemble that of a sucker), that he could never 
utter a full masculine sound. In his base tones he sputtered, and 
squeaked in his tenor; and the treble chord he could not reach 
at all. His person resembled a living mummy. It was little else 
than a framework of bone, tendon, and membrane, covered by a 
dingy skin, so tensely fitted to it as to prevent wrinkles. His 
entire figure was unmarked by the swell and rounding of a single 
muscle. 

Still, I say, he was clever, in the highest and strongest meaning 
of the term. Besides instructing me much better than auy other 
teacher had done, ho gave me whole tomes of excellent advice, 
which was highly serviceable to me in after years ; and which 
even now, in the winter of my life, I remember with a flush of 
gratitude and pleasure. 

Soon after I left his school he left it also, and repaired to Prince- 
ton (in New Jersey), to fit himself, by higher and ampler attain- 
ments in college-learning, for the study of divinity. His sound 
scholarship and general merit being there discovered, he received 
soon after his graduation, as Bachelor of Arts, the appointment 
of first tutor in that ancient and respectable institution. His 
performance of the duties of the responsible station to which, 
though unasked for, he was thus promoted, was all that could be 
desired — faithful, conscientious, and able. But his tenure of it 
was brief. About nine months from the time of his appointment, 
the united toils of teaching and professional study struck him 
down, in a violent fever, accompanied by an inflammation of the 
brain, which, in less than a week, proved fatal to him. 

Many years afterwards, I visited the cemetery where the relics 
of my earlv benefactor were deposited, and, not without some dif- 
ficulty, found his lonely and neglected grave, honored only by its 
mouldering contents. Indignant at the disrespect with which it 



68 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

had been treated, I had the wild weeds that grew around it 
plucked up, a covering of fresher sods laid over it, and a more 
respectable head and foot-stone erected, to mark more lastingly 
the consecrated spot, I nest, with my own hands, placed in the 
earth around it a few flower-bearing plants, and then gazing on 
it for a moment, not perhaps without a moistened eye, bade it a 
feeling and final farewell. Poor Harris ! Grow on and around 
his grave what may, neither the nettle nor the thorn, the brier 
nor the thistle, can derive from his clay congenial nourishment. 
He was one of the purest impersonations I have ever known of 
what is most valuable and attractive in mildness and amenity, 
unsophisticated kindness and good-nature. 

I entered next an institution called an academy, in which, 
together with the ancient languages, were taught a few branches 
of science to which I was a stranger. Much to my regret, how- 
ever, I found that also to be but a meagre concern. The teachers 
of it, though neither actually weak nor ignorant, were equally re- 
mote from being, in any measure, powerfully gifted, or exten- 
sively informed. But the worst feature of their case was, that 
they were destitute alike of skill and faithfulness in the art of 
teaching. But, far from having on me the slightest influence, 
through a disposition on my part to follow their example of idle- 
ness and neglect, that example but rendered me the more indus- 
trious and energetic; for I now clearly perceived that, for the 
accomplishment of my education, I must depend almost entirely 
on my own resources. To this view of the subject I adapted my 
measures, with all the assiduity, judgment, and firmness I could 
bring to the enterprise. And, by the close of my fourteenth year, 
I had made myself master of all the school and academical learn- 
ing that could be furnished by the institutions of the region in 
which I resided. Perhaps I might amplify my representation of 
the case, and say that I now possessed as much attainment of the 
kind referred to as could be imparted to me at any institution 
then in the State of North Carolina ; for, as yet, the University 
of that State had not been founded. 

With this, I close the account of my literary pupilage in the 
South, but not of my literary education. That process I still 
continued, with unabated ardor, though I changed materially the 



CHARLES CALDWELL, JL D. 69 

mode of conducting it ; a measure which formed an epoch ia the 
history of my life. 

I was now virtually alone in the world, having followed both 
my parents to the grave, and to no control, except theirs, had I 
ever submitted ; nor from any other source could I deign to take 
counsel. Too young, as well as, in my own opinion, too super- 
ficially educated to enter on the study of a learned profession, and 
not having at immediate command a sufficient amount of funds 
to enable me to repair to one of the distinguished northern col- 
leges for the completion of my elementary education, I was in- 
duced, by a complimentary invitation, and the prospect of a liberal 
income, to place myself at the head of a large and flourishing 
grammar-school, situated in a remote and wealthy section of the 
State. That institution had at all times previously been under 
the direction of gentlemen somewhat advanced in years, and of 
acknowledged scholarship ; and it contained, at the time of my 
appointment to it, several pupils from five to ten years older than 
myself. On different individuals, accordingly as they stood related 
to me, these circumstances made different impressions, and' awa- 
kened in them different feelings and emotions. Among those 
who were friendly to me they produced, not unnaturally, some 
apprehension that, under my administration of it, young, inex- 
perienced, and comparatively characterless as I was, the institu- 
tion would decline in standing, and I lose the favorable repute 
for school-learning, steadiness, andefficiency, which I had already 
acquired. And certain individuals, who were envious and jealous 
toward me, flattered themselves with a hope to the same effect. 
And I confess that, sanguine and enthusiastic as my temperament 
was, and sufficiently confident as I was in my own capability and 
firmness, I was not myself entirely free from doubt on the sub- 
ject. But that doubt I carefully concealed, and spoke and acted 
with confidence and resolution. For I had already learned that 
a strong will, a dauntless spirit, and promptness in action, are 
powerful means to insure success; while doubt, diffidence, hesi- 
tation, and delay, are prophetic of failure. I therefore, with 
boldness and promptitude, advanced to my purpose. 

The gentleman who had preceded me in the direction of the 
school, acted toward me with a degree of kindness and liberality 



70 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

which was highly honorable to him, and which I have never 
ceased to remember with gratitude. 

In the government of the institution I found no difficulty. 
Discarding entirely the levity of youth, in which I had never but 
very moderately indulged, and assuming a deportment sufficiently 
• authoritative, mingled with affability and courtesy of manner, I 
commanded, from the first act of my official duties, the entire re- 
spect and deference of my pupils. The elder and more intelli- 
gent of them conformed to order and good government from a 
threefold motive — the decorum and propriety of the measure, in 
a social and gentlemanly point of view — a conviction that sub- 
mission to rightful authority is a moral duty, which cannot be 
violated without disrepute among the enlightened and the virtu- 
ous — and a sentiment of self-interest ; for they had the sagacity 
very soon to perceive my ability to bestow on them lasting bene- 
fits, and my resolution to do so, provided they should deserve 
them. 

A given portion of time excepted, which, for the benefit of the 
school, I deemed it my duty to devote to social intercourse, my 
intellectual labors became bow more incessant and intense than 
they had been at any previous period of my life. 

The exercises of instructing, directing, and governing during 
the day, were comparatively but amusements. My real labors 
were performed by candle-light. 

That I might manifest a proud and triumphant preparation 
and capability to communicate instruction with readiness and ease 
in all the branches belonging to my departments, and establish a 
high reputation to that effect, I ran over, every night, before re- 
tiring to my pillow, the matters of recitation, especially those of 
the higher orders, that were to come before me on the following 
day. Or, if I had any number of evening engagements ahead, 
which were to be of some duration, I examined in one night the 
subjects of recitation for the corresponding number of succeeding 
days. For my resolution was settled, never, if able by any 
possible exertion to prevent it, to be found unprepared for my 
duty in the slightest particular. 

Owing to these habits of unfailing punctuality and industry, 
accompanied by corresponding energy and perseverance, this was 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 71 

one of the most instructive periods of my life. It gave me more 
exalted and correct ideas of precision and accuracy in intellectual 
action, than one person in ten thousand entertains, or than I had 
previously entertained — though I had always prized and en- 
deavored to a certain extent to practise them. It also taught me 
experimentally the great importance and value of strict attention, 
as the source of accuracy. Nor did it fail to confirm my belief 
of the truth, and elevate my opinion of the usefulness, of Dr. 
Priestley's favorite and oft- repeated motto : "Qui docet, disqit :" 
he who teaches others, instructs himself. 

During this period I certainly learned more, I have reason to 
believe much more, than any pupil under my tuition. But whether 
I actually learned a greater amount or not, what I did learn, I 
certainly learned much more thoroughly and accurately than any 
of my pupils — because I was positively, and on principle, resolved 
to do so. And resolution, properly directed and sufficiently per- 
severed in, can and does accomplish everything, within the scope 
of human power. 

That some portions of the foregoing narrative will appear to 
many persons extravagant, half-romantic, and perhaps even ficti- 
tious, I am prepared to presume, if not to believe. But that 
consideration does not move me. My own memory confirms 
and my love of truth approves of all I have written respecting 
myself. Neither the cavils nor the skepticisms of others, there- 
fore, give me the least concern. Those who know me will be- 
lieve me. The doubters and disbelievers, should any such exist, 
will be persons to whom I am not known. Hence their opinion 
will bo negative, because it is without evidence, except what they 
may derive from their knowledge of themselves. 

Should such skeptics allege that they could not have done 
what I assert to have been done by myself, and that therefore I 
did not do it ; in that case, while I have no just ground to den}', 
nor do deny, their premises ; they have none to affirm, and cannot 
justly affirm, their conclusion. The elements of their syllogism 
have no natural connection with each other. Their logic is there- 
fore unsound and nugatory. 

From this institution, which was called the Snow Creek Semi- 
nary, from being situated on a stream of that name, not far from 
the foot of the Bushy Mountains, in North Carolina, I was invited 



72 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

by a bod} 7 of gentlemen of standing and influence, to engage in 
the establishment of a school, of a similar character, about fifty 
miles distant, in a still wealthier and more cultivated tract of 
country. This invitation was flattering to me, on account of the 
high and growing opinion of my ability and qualifications which 
it manifested, and I promptly accepted it. To become the founder 
and father of a literary institution, about the commencement of 
my eighteenth year, was deemed by me an achievement not un- 
worthy of my ambition, though already sufficiently high and 
enthusiastic. I accordingly embarked in the enterprise, without 
delay or hesitation, planned it with my best judgment and skill, 
and urged the practical measures of it with all the ardor and 
energy of my nature. 

And, without going into details and specifications, it may be 
sufficient to say, that again was my success both rapid and 
brilliant. 

At the head of the Centre Institute I continued for two years, 
during which time my studies were of a more miscellaneous 
character, than they had been at any previous period. My read- 
ing was general — almost exclusively, however, of a substantial 
and instructive nature, very little of it being either calculated 
or designed for purposes of amusement. Though it did not 
exclude works of scie>ice, technically so denominated, it consisted 
chiefly of history in its several departments ; biography, travels, 
public speeches by distinguished orators, sermons included, ably 
written letters, and poetry. Though novels, romances, and other 
works of moral fiction, were not entirely neglected by me, they 
were read only in company, attended by comments and illustra- 
tive remarks, with a view to afford by them agreeable entertain- 
ment, and such instruction as they might be calculated to impart, 
and never during my hours of solitude and labor in my study. 
Xor did I fail to devote some portion of my time to a study in 
which, from my boyhood, I have peculiarly delighted — that of 
the philosophy or theology of nature, under a strict comparison 
of it with the theology of revelation, two branches of knowledge 
usually called "natural and revealed religion." I need hardly 
observe, that such exercises contributed not a little to expand 
and enrich, mature and strengthen my mind, and thus prepare it 
the more effectually for the study of whatever professional calling 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 73 

I might subsequently adopt. For it is a mockery to call divinity, 
law, and medicine " learned professions," unless those who pro- 
fess and pursue them, are learned men. And I blush for the pro- 
fessional degradation of my country, when I feel myself compelled 
to add, that such is far from being the case in the United States, 
under our present disgraceful neglect of letters. 

At that era of my life I also commenced, in a more special and 
pointed manner, the study of human nature ; not by the perusal 
of printed books, but of the Book of Nature. I mean, by observa- 
tion on people around me. My first object was, to attain such a 
knowledge of human nature as might cpualify me, in all cases, to 
hold intercourse with individuals, and society at large, in such a 
way, and on such terms, as might be most becoming, safe, and 
useful, as well toward others, as in relation to myself. Nor did 
I confine my studies to the acquisition of the knowledge of man, 
on a very limited scale. I extended them into that branch of 
natural history, denominated Anthropology, embracing the whole 
history and philosophy of man. In this enterprise in science I 
was induced to engage, by the late Eeverend President Smith's 
celebrated Essay on the Causes of the Variety of Color and 
Figure of the Human Race. About that time the work made 
its appearance, first in pamphlet form ; and was afterwards, in a 
second edition, enlarged to a treatise, occupying an octavo vo- 
lume of four or five hundred pages. From my first perusal of 
that work, I expressed my disbelief of the hypothesis it contained, 
and, as will be hereafter more fully represented, subsequently 
reviewed it, with perhaps more severity than was either neces- 
sary or commendable. Notwithstanding my deep engrossment, 
by graver engagements, I found or created, during this period of 
my life, sufficient leisure to be able to hold, at times, a moment 
of light and sportive intercourse and dalliance with the muses. 
" In humbler English," as Peter Pindar expressed himself, I wrote 
and had printed, in, I think, the only newspaper then published 
in North Carolina, a number of brief articles, which the world 
called poetry. (And, be it a misnomer or not, they still bestow on 
such productions the same name.) Khyme and blank verse, they 
certainly were. But, that they were deeply instinct with the 
spirit of poetry, I am not prepared very positively to aver. Be 
this however as it may, not one of them can be now adduced, to 



74 AUTOBIOGKAPHT OF 

testify either for or against my poetic endowments. Like the 
"baseless fabrics" of many other "visions," they long since dis- 
solved, and left " not a wreck behind." 

Having never designed to officiate as an instructor of youth 
for more than a few years, the time had now arrived when it was 
incumbent on me to make choice of a profession for life. I had 
been educated expressly for the Presbyterian pulpit — my family 
having been, through many generations, strict adherents to the 
Presbyterian sect, and most of them very sternly wedded to its 
distinctive tenets, principles of government, and form of worship. 
But, very early in life, and for sundry reasons satisfactory to my- 
self, I had firmly resolved, and made my resolution known to 
those most deeply interested in it, not to devote myself to that 
calling. And I expressed a predilection for the profession of 
law. This choice, however, my father, during his lifetime, had 
so feelingly and inflexibly opposed and condemned, that, after his 
death, I did not consider it respectful to his memory, to persevere 
in my design. I therefore determined to decline the drudgery of 
all civil vocations, and to serve my country in a military capacity. 
But partly by an appeal to my feelings, and in part by argument, 
I was induced to relinquish that intention also, and to select for 
my destiny the profession of medicine. During this period of 
vacillation (the only one I remember to have ever experienced) 
I allowed several individuals who were my seniors in years, and 
who were supposed to be also my superiors in wisdom and know- 
ledge of the world, to approach me, in the capacity of so many 
mentors, and tender to me their advice, respecting the suitable- 
ness, respectability, and advantages of a profession. But, though 
I listened to the remarks of all of them with courtesy and appa- 
rent respect, I attached to them, for what I considered a just and 
competent reason, but very little importance. The opinion and 
arguments of each of them differed from those of all the others, 
to such an extent as virtually to neutralize one another, and lose 
their effect. I was therefore obliged to draw on my own re- 
sources, and finally rely on my own judgment. And in schemes 
and enterprises of my own, I have rarely if at all, since that 
period, been troublesome to others by soliciting their opinions — I 
mean, the opinions of several on the same subject, and at the 
same time. It is seldom that a number of advisers take a sincere 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 75 

interest in the person, or his concerns, who solicits their advice. 
Each adviser, therefore, as he is deemed wise, by the solicitor, and 
more especially, as he deems himself wise, is much more apt to 
speak in gratification of his own pride of opinion, and with a 
view to support it, than for the exclusive benefit of him at whose 
request the opinion is given. 

The remark that, " in a multitude of counsellors there is safety," 
has virtually passed into a proverb. But it does not possess the 
positive and unsophisticated truth indispensably necessary to 
render it a proverb. The benefit actually derivable from the 
advice of a "multitude of counsellors," provided it prove benefi- 
cial, is much more attributable to the judgment and wisdom of 
him who receives, than of those who tender advice. The latter 
only furnished the raw materials of decision, while, out of those 
materials, to render it valuable, the former must frame the deci- 
sion himself. And the composer of a well-adjusted aggregate or 
compound requires a much greater amount of intellect and skill, 
than he docs who merely supplies him with the ingredients of it. 
The construction of a watch or steam-engine is a higher effort of 
genius than is the mere supply of the materials out of which 
they are made. 

In confirmation of the truth of the position here maintained, 
the example of Washington (and the records of man furnish 
none superior to it) may be successfully adduced. In all cases 
of moment and difficulty, in the field, he consulted his officers, in 
a council of war ; and, in the like cases, when in the chair of the 
chief magistracy of the nation, he did the same, in relation to his 
constitutional advisers. But, having fully possessed himself of 
the views of his council, he formed his decision, by deliberate 
reflection, in the solitude of his cabinet. And it may be truly 
said of him, that no other mortal, whose life stands on record, 
has ever committed so few mistakes as he did, in so diversified a 
contest, with so many new difficulties of such magnitude and 
intricacy. 

But no inexperienced youth, unversed in the ways and trans- 
actions of the world, and unacquainted with the difficulties and 
dangers of life, and the means and modes of meeting and van- 
quishing them, can thus select and avail himself of the truths, 
and reject and escape the errors scattered through a mass of dif- 



76 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

ferent and conflicting opinions and arguments. Let every such 
youth, therefore, who may need advice, and be in quest of it, in- 
stead of applying to a " multitude of counsellors," select a single 
individual, in whose wisdom and judgment, friendliness and 
fidelity, he can fully confide, and, in calm and deliberate counsel 
with him, decide on the agitated subject in question. It might 
seem rash to deny that, by such a procedure, good may be 
achieved. But, individually (though the remark may perhaps 
be ascribed to my vanity), I have always been most successful in 
my schemes, when I have acted at my own risk, and as my own 
counsellor. But, to return to my narrative, and commence a new 
chapter. 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 77 



CHAPTER II. 

Salisbury — My Preceptor — Dissatisfaction— Determine to go to Philadelphia — My 
friends in Salisbury — Henderson — Rev. Dr. Hall — Rev. Dr. Archibald — Military 
escort — First view of Washington — Its effects on me — Leave Salisbury. 

I have already observed, that, in relation to the choice of a 
profession, having consulted others, and seriously reflected on the 
subject myself, I had finally resolved to devote myself to medi- 
cine. And that resolution was accompanied by another, which 
should be deliberately formed, and conscientiously executed, by 
every youth, who aims at profession, office, or any other sort of 
public employment, as the occupation of his life. It was, that, 
oonformably to what I had already done, in my previous studies, 
from motives of ambition, self-respect, and moral duty, I would 
now endeavor to do again, with all the resources I could bring to 
the task — attain to eminence and practical usefulness, in the pro- 
fession I had chosen. Nor have I ever been faithless to that 
determination. 

The better and more certainly to effect my purpose, by avail- 
ing myself of the highest advantages for medical instruction 
that were then afforded by the tract of country in which I re- 
sided, I removed to the town of Salisbury, and placed myself 
under the tuition of a gentleman of reputation and standing, who 
had been not long previously graduated in medicine, in the Uni- 
versity of Pennsylvania. But, in relation to the advantages for 
improvement which I had anticipated, I encountered a sad and 
mortifying disappointment. Though my preceptor was a man of 
respectable talents, and no inconsiderable stock of knowledge, 
and though he was exceedingly attentive and communicative to 
me, in conversation, that was almost the only source of which I 
could avail myself. He had no library, no apparatus, no provi- 
sion for improvement in practical anatomy, nor any other efficient 
means of instruction in medicine. Had it not been for his appa- 



78 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

rent and I believe sincere attachment to me, and my regard for 
him, as the brother of my former and only favorite teacher, 
Harris, of whom I have heretofore spoken, I would not have 
continued with him three months. But, from an unwillingness 
to mortify him, or in any way disoblige him, I protracted my 
stay for about a year and a half— an instance of self-neglect which 
I afterwards sincerely regretted— because it involved the most 
unqualified and indefensible waste of time I have ever committed. 

Satisfied, however, at length, that I had already deferred too 
much to a sentiment of mere delicacy, to the gratification of my 
preceptor, the acquisition and retention of his friendship, and to 
a fruitless, though sincere desire on his part to serve me, I deter- 
mined no longer to submit to a self-sacrifice which had become 
painful to me, and to a loss of time which could never be re- 
deemed. Provided, therefore, with what funds I had already pro- 
cured by my own exertions, and which I hoped to be able to 
increase, by the sale of a small patrimonial estate, I determined 
to proceed to Philadelphia, and prosecute my studies in the medi- 
cal school of that place, which was then, as now, the most celebrated 
institution of the kind in the United States. 

Before taking, however, a final leave of Salisbury (for I have 
never since beheld it), I shall pay a brief and transient tribute of 
remembrance to a few of my associates in that place, and refer to 
an event or two which occurred in it during my residence there, 
and in which I myself bore a part. 

I have spoken of my Salisbury acquaintances as associates: 
but the term is a misnomer. They were not associates, but per- 
sons who were known to me. I merely lived among them, but 
was not one of them. Though I often met them, ate occasionally 
at the same table with them, joined in the same dance, and, at 
times, walked the street in company with them, still (one alone 
excepted), I held with them no internal companionship. My only 
real companion at the time (and he was something still more rare 
and highly valued by me — a friend) was a lawyer, by a few years 
my senior, possessed of splendid talents, commanding eloquence, 
and towering ambition. His name was Henderson ; and, classi- 
cally and carefully educated from his boyhood, he was a man of 
fine literary taste, an excellent Shakspeare scholar, and well 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 79 

versed in English poetry in general; especially in that of the 
highest order. 

Instead of joining clubs, to eat, drink, joke, and frolic, as most 
of the other young men of Salisbury did, he and myself met on 
stated evenings in our own studies, to read, converse on, and cri- 
ticize specified works in polite literature, and sometimes manu- 
script articles of our own production. And, from that source, 
we derived not only rational and high gratification, but also 
valuable improvement in letters. 

Even, now, after the lapse of more than half a century, I have 
a vivid and grateful remembrance of the pleasure and benefit 
imparted and received by our mutual and earnest efforts to that 
effect. 

Henderson had two sisters, by far the most accomplished wo- 
men of the place, but not beautiful. One of them was married, 
and the other single. I sincerely admired both, but loved neither, 
and passed in their society many delightful hours. 

My friend, who possessed much more elegance and supcrbness 
of mind than of person, had the misfortune to become passion- 
ately enamored- of a young lady of striking beauty and high 
accomplishments, who passed a winter with his married sister. 
But, to his grievous disappointment and deep mortification, he 
was unable to awaken in the fair one a corresponding affection. 
His want of success he was induced, by the tattle of the town, to 
attribute to my influence. The tale reached his too credulous 
ear (sincere and impassioned lovers are always credulous of un- 
favorable rumors), that I intentionally placed myself between him 
and the lady, and had contrived to render myself the favorite. I 
was intimate with her, and frequently visited her, professedly 
and positively as his friend and advocate. Yet did he allow that 
intercourse in his behalf to be converted, by secret insinuation 
or open gossip, or by both united, into a ground of apprehension 
by him, that, while I was pretendingly pleading his cause, I was 
actually pleading my own. His awakened suspicions and fears 
on the subject he had the candor or the foil}'' (I hardly know 
which, to call it, but it was probably an amalgamation of both) to 
impart, under great agitation, to me. 

For his groundless, and, toward me, most wrongful suspicions, 
I rebuked him sternly — perhaps acrimoniously — withdrew my- 



80 AUTOBIOGEAPHT OF 

self in a great measure from his society and entirely from that 
of his sister's family. * 

Thus was I, without any actual fault of my own, but entirely 
through the mischief-making instrumentality of others, thrown 
into the very worst kind of solitude that man can experience ; 
having but little intercourse, and no companionship with the 
hundreds that were around me, and being resolved now to make 
no shadow of change in either respect. And, to augment the 
evil, this sacrifice, on my part, brought neither relief nor the hope 
of it to poor Henderson. His suit continued, as previously, unsuc- 
cessful and unpromising. 

In this condition of things, which, to him, somewhat inclined 
as he was by nature to melancholy, appeared to be hopeless, he 
became spiritless and gloomy, neglected law, literature, and social 
intercourse, and was at length attacked by what his physicians 
denominated a brain fever — in language more intelligible per- 
haps to the mass of readers, by a febrile affection accompanied 
with delirium. 

No sooner had this visitation come down on him, than, forget- 
ting the wrong and injury he had done me, I hastened to his 
sick-bed, nursed him, watched with him, rendered him every 
practicable service, and administered to him every comfort and 
consolation I could devise and command. 

His delirium, wild and fiery at first, changed to stern suicidal 
insanity — and he meditated self-destruction. That propensity in 
him I had for some time suspected, and at length detected what 
I considered proof of it by the following incident : — 

My afflicted friend told me (which was true) that his hearing, 
in one of his ears, was defective ; but that, if I would favor him 
with one of my pistols, loaded, and allow him to discharge it, 
close to his ear, the report, he felt confident, would remove his 
deafness. 

This disclosure, confirmatory of the suspicion I already enter- 
tained, increased my vigilance and assiduity to such an extent, 
that, for an entire week, I neither left his room, nor slept, as I 
verily believe, a single moment. 

During this period he was also a stranger to sound and re- 
freshing sleep. At length, having become a little less gloomy 
and more trancpail than usual, he told me he thought he should 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 81 

be able to sleep, provided I would darken his room, by closing 
the window-shutters (the time was afternoon), and allow him to 
be alone. 

I reluctantly complied with his request; and, apprehensive of 
disaster in my absence, I returned to his room, in a few minutes, 
and, to my unspeakable horror, found him weltering in his blood, 
and breathing, or rather bubbling through a fearful gash in his 
windpipe. 

During my brief absence, he had been busily employed, having 
attempted suicide in three several ways — by endeavoring to beat 
out his brains with a large iron bolt; by aiming at the same end 
by standing erect in his bed, which his strength of desperation 
enabled him to do, and precipitating himself toward the hearth, 
with a view to strike the corner of an andiron with his head, 
which he failed to do ; and ultimately by cutting his throat with 
a razor. 

By neither plan, however, did he succeed in his design. Though 
the wound inflicted by him with the razor was deep and appalling, 
it divided no main bloodvessel, and was not, therefore, fatal. The 
blood, moreover, discharged by it contributed to the removal of 
his fever and delirium. Hence his health of body and soundness 
of mind were finally restored. But the injury done to his trachea 
so deranged his organs of speech, that his voice, which had been 
splendid, was irreparably impaired. The object of his passion, 
moreover, having returned to her father's, his love fit was soon 
at an end, and he again devoted himself intensely to the business 
of his profession. And, though his voice was now rough and 
guttural, and the brilliancy and attractiveness of his rhetoric were 
gone, the strength and compass of his mind, his sagacity and 
penetration, and his power in analysis and argument, and readiness 
in debate were undiminished, and they all increased with his ad- 
vancement in years and experience, until he ultimately rose to the 
head of the bar in North Carolina, and retained that station to the 
close of his life, an event which occurred about his fortieth year. 
lie once allowed himself to be elected a representative to Con- 
gress, where he greatly distinguished himself, especially by his 
speech on the judiciary question. But the vote of the House on 
it being, in his opinion, unrighteously adverse to his party, he 
6 



82 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

resigned, in disgust, his seat in the chief council of the nation, 
and never again appeared in the capitol. 

Another early acquaintance, of whom it is peculiarly pleasing 
to me to speak (though he was advanced in years when I was but 
a boy), was the Rev. James Hall, D. D., of Iredell County. In 
piety he was peculiarly signalized ; and his aspect was more vene- 
rable and apostolic than that of any other man I have ever beheld. 
His intellect was also of a high order, especially in mathematics, 
astronomy, and mechanics; and, in the power and majesty of 
pulpit eloquence, he had no superior. 

In mathematical and astronomical science he gave me my ear- 
liest and most instructive lessons. And he was certainly one of 
the first, if not himself the very first constructor of a steamboat. 
And the invention was original with him, not derivative. I wit- 
nessed myself the movement of his first model (a structure five 
or six feet long), over a small pond, on his own plantation. But 
he was too deeply engrossed by his clerical labors to pursue his 
invention to any useful effect. 

I have said that Dr. Hall was a man of great and moving pulpit 
eloquence. Of the truth of this, the following occurrence gives 
ample proof: — 

On a sacramental occasion, in Poplar-tent congregation, in Ca- 
barrus County, the assemblage of people was far too great to be 
contained in the meeting-house. The time being summer, suit- 
able arrangements were made, and the multitude were seated 
beneath the shade of a dense forest of ancient oaks; and Dr. 
Hall addressed them from a temporary stage erected for the pur- 
pose. In the course of his sermon, which, from beginning to end, 
was bold and fervent, he took occasion to liken the condition of a 
heedless and reckless sinner to that of a wild and unthinking youth, 
crossing, in a slight batteau, a deep and rapid river, a short dis- 
tance above a lofty and frightful waterfall. 

On each bank of the stream were members of the family and 
friends of the young man eyeing, in wild distraction and horror, 
the perils of his situation, and loudly calling to him, in screams 
of terror, to ply his oars and press for the shore. But he either 
hears them not, or disregards their supplication ; and in perfect 
negligence and apparent security, giving only with his oars an 
occasional stroke, gazes on the beauties of the landscape around 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 83 

him, the azure of the heavens, the birds disporting in air above 
him, his faithful, but terrified dog, crouching by his side, and 
looking him affectionately and imploringly in the face ; he gazes, 
in fact, on everything visible, except the waterfall, near to him, 
and the gulf beneath it, toward which, with fearful power and 
rapidity, the current is sweeping him. But, suddenly, at length 
awakened from his rever}^ he hears the distracted and piercing 
calls of his friends, sees their bent bodies and extended arms, as 
if outstretched to save him ; beholds the cataract, over whose 
awful brink he is impending, and, horror-stricken at the sight, 
starting up and convulsively reaching out his wide-spread hands, 
as if imploring a rescue, and uttering an unearthly shriek of 
despair, is headlong plunged and swallowed up in the boiling 
gulf that awaits him. 

So completely had the words of the orator arrested and en- 
thralled the minds of his audience, so vivid and engrossing was 
the scene he had pictured to their imaginations, and so perfectly, 
for his purpose, had he converted fiction into reality, that, when 
he brought his victim to shoot the cataract, a scream was uttered 
by several women, two or three were stricken down by their 
emotion, and a large portion of the assembled multitude made an 
involuntary start, as if, by instinct, impelled to an effort to redeem 
the lost one, and restore him to his friends. 

Never did I, in any other instance, except one, witness an effort 
of oratory so powerful and bewitching; and, in that one, I myself 
was materially concerned, and in it a twofold source of influencr 
was employed — impassioned eloquence and scenic show. It oc- 
curred very many years ago, in the Chestnut Street Theatre, in 
Philadelphia, during the performance of u Alexander the Great." 
The "Rival Queens" were personated; Statira, by Mrs. Wignel, 
afterwards, by another marriage, Mrs. Warren, and Eoxana by 
Mrs. Whitlock, the sister of Mrs. Siddons. In the murder scene, 
so completely successful were those two accomplished actresses, 
that, in my fascinated view of the matter, playful fiction had 
given place to vindictive reality, and, when Roxana drew her 
glittering dagger, preparatory to the murderous act she medi- 
tated, I (being seated in the stage-box) sprang to my feet, and 
would have disarmed her in a moment, had I uot been prevented 
by a gentleman in the box. Whether any person but myself 



84 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

now remembers the event, I know not ; but its effect at the time 
was memorable and ludicrous. It drew from pit, box, and gal- 
lery, directed toward myself, a round or two of hearty laughter 
and applause, and utterly spoiled the after-part of the play, by 
changing it from tragedy into comedy or farce. 

Still further to evince the versatility and value of the powers, 
both bodily and mental, of the Eev. Dr. Hall, at the most unpro- 
mising period of our revolutionary war, in the South, when thick 
clouds were gathering on the horizon of freedom, when the hopes 
of the most sanguine and the hearts of the bravest seemed ready 
to fail, and every service of every patriot was called for in the 
contest — at that period of gloom and incipient despondency, the 
equally brave and venerable Hall, to the sword of the Spirit, 
which he had long and successfully wielded, added that of the 
secular arm, by soliciting and readily obtaining, on two condi- 
tions, proposed by himself, a captaincy in a regiment of volunteer 
dragoons, to continue in service for at least a year, unless sooner 
disbanded by the termination of the war. And the conditions 
were, that his company should be raised by himself, and that he 
should act as chaplain, without pay, to the regiment to which he 
might belong. "Whether he received pay as captain I do not re- 
member, but believe he did not. 

On these terms, he was soon, at the head of a full and noble- 
looking company, on his march to the seat of war, where, as 
often as a suitable opportunity presented itself, he never failed to 
distinguish himself by his gallantry and firmness. An excellent 
rider, personally almost Herculean, possessed of a very long and 
flexible arm, and taking, as he did, daily lessons from a skilful 
teacher of the art, he became, in a short time, one of the best 
swordsmen in the cavalry of the South. Being found, moreover, 
to be as judicious in council as he was formidable in action, he 
received the sobricruet of the Ulysses of his regiment. 

On the capture of Lord Cornwallis, believing the war to be on 
the verge of its termination, and persuaded that he could now 
more effectually serve his country in a civil than in a military 
capacity, having declined the acceptance of a proffered majority 
in a regiment of select cavalry about to be formed, he resigned 
his commission, and returned to the duties of the clerical pro- 
fession. 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 85 

It was long after this that I became, for a time, his private 
pupil in mathematics and astronomy. And, notwithstanding his 
previous stern and formidable qualities as a soldier, he was now 
one of the mildest and meekest of men. After a lapse of more, 
perhaps, than twenty years from the period of my pupilage under 
him, I saw him for the last time, in the city of Philadelphia, as a 
delegate to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, 
and had the high gratification of affording him relief from a trou- 
blesome complaint, produced by fatigue and exposure in travelling. 

From the superior size of his person, the form and grandeur 
of his head and countenance, the snowy whiteness of his hair, of 
but little of which he had been shorn by the hand of time, and from 
the surpassing venerableness of his whole appearance, he was by 
far the most attractive and admired personage in the reverend 
body of which he was a member. lie was instinctively regarded, 
by all who beheld him, as the rightful Nestor and ornament of 
the Assembly. lie died, not long afterward, at the advanced 
age of about ninety years, bequeathing to posterity a reputation 
rarely equalled, and never, as I verily believe, surpassed, in moral 
rectitude, pure, fervent, and practical piety, and usefulness in the 
wide sphere of his diversified labors in the Christian ministry, by 
any individual our country has produced. 

One reminiscence more of my Salisbury acquaintance, and I 
am done. The object of it was also a clergyman, the Eev. Dr. 
Archibald, who was so strongly made up of heterogeneous quali- 
ties as to be, in some respects, strikingly unique. Most assuredly, 
I have never seen his like, nor have I ever read or heard of any 
human being, in civilized society, except an idiot or a lunatic, 
so slovenly, so absorbed in himself and mentally absent from all 
things around; so forgetful at times of the proprieties of life, and 
inattentive to the condition of his own person. 

Dr. Archibald, who was a resolute patriot, and had been a revo- 
lutionary chaplain, was a man of solid judgment, fertile and 
vigorous in thought, classically educated, and extensively versed 
in church history, and the entire stock of technical knowledge 
which specially belonged to the learning of his profession. He 
was also sufficiently trained in polite literature to be, at the time, 
one of the most accomplished clerical writers in the South ; and, 
though, in the delivery of his sermons, he made neither preten- 



86 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

sion nor approach to what, in the common acceptation of the 
phrase, is called " pulpit eloquence," he was, notwithstanding, one 
of the ablest and most instructive preachers of the day. In the 
amount of his valuable and appropriate knowledge for sermoniz- 
ing purposes, the correctness, perspicuity, and force of his logic, 
and the abundance and aptness of his illustrative analogies, he 
had no superior; and, in his eccentricities' and oddities, he was 
Also unsurpassed — perhaps unequalled. 

For several years he was stationed, as pastor, in Poplar-tent 
congregation, and resided about six or seven miles from the 
meeting-house. 

He possessed, as his fellow-traveller, a horse almost equal to 
himself in years, called Old Dun. I say his fellow-traveller ; for 
he had accompanied him during his services, as chaplain, in the 
war. He could hardly be called his riding-horse, as he seldom 
mounted him, but either led him, by a hempen halter, or allowed 
him to follow, the halter and bridle-reins being thrown over his 
neck, or trailed along the ground. In this way did the two com- 
panions continue for many j'ears to travel, both short distances 
and considerable journeys, through fair weather and foul, over 
good roads and bad ones, often by night as well as by day, with 
but little variations. Scores of times have I witnessed, on Sunday 
mornings, the arrival at Poplar-tent meeting-house, of the Eev. 
Doctor and Old Dun, the latter following, and the former pre- 
ceding, perfectly "bare-foot," his shoes in his hand, and his stock- 
ings dangling on his arm or over his shoulder — or, during his 
more careful moods, perhaps crammed into his coat-pocket. At 
other times (and very frequently), the gentleman made his appear- 
ance, at church or elsewhere, wearing shoes and stockiDgs, the 
former unfastened, and the latter unmatched, one being blue, and 
the other black, white, or gray, according to the run of accident 
(for no choice had been exercised in the matter), and either one 
or both pushed, or otherwise depressed to the ankles, the legs 
naked, and the knees of the breeches neither buttoned, buckled, 
nor tied. 

In warm weather, that erratic being, exceedingly sensitive to 
heat, and subject, when in exercise, to be deluged by sweat, was 
in the practice, for the promotion of his bodily comfort, of dis- 
robing himself when preaching, in the following manner. 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 87 

First, off went his coat, and was hung over the edge of the 
pulpit, or placed on the seat behind him. In a few minutes after- 
ward, his discomfort from the temperature still continuing, his 
waistcoat followed it. Next, came a like dismissal of his cravat 
or neck-band. Then followed the unbuttoning of his shirt-collar 
and wrist-bands, and the rolling up of his sleeves above his 
elbows — and thus (in the expressive, but not supra-refined lan- 
guage of the pugilist), "stripped almost to the buff," did he 
continue his labor. And, if not prevented, by a hint to the 
contrary, he closed the scene by descending from the pulpit, at 
the termination of the exercises, leaving behind him his whole 
wardrobe. This picture, extraordinary and perhaps fictitious as 
it may appear, is neither a fancy-piece nor a caricature. It is 
true to the life and the letter, as I myself have several times 
beheld it. And the following anecdote is equally correct. 

The Doctor having set out on a journey, accompanied by Old 
Dun, passed his first night at the house where I resided, intending 
to travel near twenty miles, before breakfast, next morning. I 
slept in the same chamber with him, and, to forward him on his 
way, rose before daylight in the morning, and awaking him (he 
slept heavily and snored loudly), had Old Dun duly equipped and 
hitched at the gate. As soon as the Doctor was prepared 'for a 
movement, I walked out with him, and proposed to accompany 
him, for nearly a mile, to a public highway, along which he was 
to travel. We accordingly set out, and, passing Old Dun, unno- 
ticed by his master (perhaps I should say his associate), walked 
somewhat briskly (the morning being keen), conversing on various 
topics, until we reached the road. When about to take leave of 
the traveller, I said to him: "Pray, sir, where is your horse?" 
"Ah! really," said he, "I had forgotten him." And, had I not 
thus referred to his old and well-tried comrade, he would have 
passed on without him, to what distance no seer can tell. 

The intelligent reader will hardly be much surprised when 
he is told, that, among the various fantasies and deviations from 
sobriety and consistency of this most fantastical and anomalous 
man (the tithe of whose dissimilarities to other men has not 
been set forth by me), one should have been, his departure from 
the orthodoxy of the Christian faith, of which he had long been 
among the stauchest and ablest champions. Whether surprising, 



88 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

however, or otherwise, such was the fact. And his formal dismis- 
sal from the Christian ministry was the immediate consequence. 

One reminiscence more, connected with Salisbury, shall close 
the history of myself in the South ; at least, in that particular part 
of the South. It was during my residence in that place, that I 
had first an opportunity of seeing and approaching the person of 
General Washington, and the gratification of being noticed by 
him. The circumstances of the case were as follows: — 

Some years after his first election to the chief magistracy of the 
Union, the General made the tour of the Southern States ; to all 
of which, Virginia excepted, he was personally a stranger. In 
his journey to the South, he travelled by the eastern and low-coun- 
try route; but, on his return, journeying in North Carolina, by 
the western and hill-country road, he passed through Salisbury. 

On learning that sucli was the course he purposed to pursue, 
the youth of note in the place, high-toned in feelings of State 
pride and patriotism, and not disinclined to military pomp and 
show (I being one of them), met in a body, as if by an instinctive 
impulse, on the call of another young man and myself, organized 
themselves into a company of light dragoons, and elected, as their 
captain, a gallant and gentlemanly officer, and a splendid swords- 
man, who, in our revolutionary war, had distinguished himself as 
standard-bearer in one of the corps of Lee's legion of horse. The 
leading and most highly-prized object of the company was to 
meet General Washington, at the confines of South and North 
Carolina, and escort him, as a guard of honor, through about two- 
thirds, in breadth, of the latter State. 

When our company was organized and fully equipped, we 
rode as fine and richly caparisoned horses, wore as costly and 
splendid uniforms, and made as brilliant an appearance as any 
cavalry company of the same size (fifty-five, officers and privates), 
which the General had ever reviewed. Of this fact (no doubt the 
most highly-prized one that could have been communicated to 
us) we were kindly and courteously assured by himself. My 
rank in the company was that of standard-bearer. 

Instead of the whole command proceeding in a body to meet 
the President (such was Washington at the time), a detachment 
of thirteen privates (one for each State) was dispatched to meet 
him at the southern boundary of North Carolina (a distance of 



about seventy or eighty miles), welcome him to the State by a 
salutatory address, and escort him to within about fifteen miles 
of Salisbury, where the whole company was encamped to receive 
him. 

Of this detachment, chosen by lot (for no private was willing 
to yield to another the eagerly-sought honor and gratification of 
belonging to it), I was, with the highly-prized approbation of my 
comrades, appointed to the command. And never was man more 
proud of an appointment. I would not have exchanged my post 
for that of Governor of the Commonwealth. I was to receive 
the President, at the head of my escort, and deliver to him, in 
person, the intended address of welcome into my native State. 
And my supposed fitness for a very creditable discharge of that 
duty (for, as heretofore mentioned, I was accounted an excellent 
speaker), had contributed not a little toward my appointment to 
the office. 

In a short time my address was mentally composed, and com- 
mitted, not indeed to paper, but to my memory ; and I often re- 
peated it, silently, when in company, but audibly, when alone; 
thinking of but little else, either by day or by night, except the 
strict discipline and soldier-like appearance of my little band. 

At length, flushed with high spirits and bounding hearts, we 
were in full march toward the boundary line of the State. 

From the time of our advance within ten miles of the place of 
our destination, I kept, in my front, three videttes, distant a mile 
from each other — the nearest of them being a mile from the head 
of my little column — to convey to me half-hourly intelligence 
respecting the approach of the President, who was understood to 
travel alternately in his carriage and on horseback. At length 
one of my look-outs returned, at full speed, with information that 
a travelling carriage had been seen by him, and was then about 
a mile and a half in his rear. Instantly, everything was in com- 
plete preparation for the corning event. Had an enemy been 
advancing on us, or we on him, our excitement could not have 
been more intense. Our column was compact, our steeds reined 
up to their mettle, but held in check; each man, his cap and 
plume duly adjusted, seated firmly and horseman-like in his sad- 
dle, and our swords drawn and in rest, the sheen of their blades 



90 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

as bright and dazzling as the beams of a southern sun could 
render it. 

In this order we advanced slowly, until a light coach made its 
appearance in our front, and became the object of every eye of 
our partjr. The day being warm, the windows of it were open, 
and my first glance into its interior plainly told me that Wash- 
ington was not there. But his secretary was; and he informed me 
that the General was on horseback, a short distance in his rear. 
Proceeding onward, the movement of a few minutes brought 
us in full view of Washington, on the summit of a hill, seated 
on a magnificent milk-white charger, a present to him by Frede- 
rick of Prussia, near the close of the revolutionary war. Nor is 
it deemed an inadmissible deviation from my narrative to add 
that that present was accompanied by another, from the same 
royal personage, still more highly complimentary and honorary — 
an exquisitely finished and richly ornamented dress-sword, in- 
scribed, in gold letters, " From the oldest to the greatest general 
of the age." When a courtier, of supple knee and oily tongue, 
ventured to differ from Frederick in relation to the sentiment 
expressed by this inscription, and even presumed virtually to 
contradict him, by saying: "Sire, permit your subject to believe 
that you are yourself the greatest general of the age ;" the 
monarch replied: "No, I am not; Washington surpasses me. I 
conquered with means ; he has conquered without them." 

The circumstances of my first view of the great American 
were as well calculated to render the sight imposing, not to say 
romantically picturesque and impressive, as any that the most 
inventive and apt imagination could have devised. The day (the 
hour being about 11 A. M.) was uncommonly brilliant and beau- 
tiful," even as the product of a southern climate. The sky was 
brightly azure, its arch unusually lofty and expanded, and not a 
cloud interposed to detract from its radiance. I was ascending a 
hill of sufficient elevation to shorten materially the distance to 
the horizon, which rested on its top ; and the road leading up it 
was lined, on each side, by ancient forest-trees, in their rich ap- 
parel of summer foliage. 

In the midst of this landscape, already abundantly attractive 
and exciting, just as I had advanced about half-way up the hill, 
the President turned its summit, and began to descend. The steps 



CHARLES CALDWELL, SI. D. 91 

of his charger were measured and proud, as if the noble animal 
was conscious of the character and standing of his rider. On the 
bright canvas of the heavens behind them, the horseman and 
horse formed a superb and glorious picture. As the figure ad- 
vanced, in the symmetry and grace of an equestrian statue of the 
highest order, it reminded me of Brahma's descent from the skies. 
True, the charger did not, in his pride and buoyancy, "paw the 
bright clouds, and gallop in the storm;" but he trod with unusual 
majesty on the face of the hill. 

As I approached the President, an awe came over me, such as 
I had never before experienced. And its effect on me was as 
deeply mortifying, as it was unprecedented. Never had I previ- 
ously quailed before anything earthly. But I was now unmanned. 
Not only did I forget my oft- repeated address, but I became posi- 
tively unable to articulate a word. My imagination had placed 
me, if not in the immediate presence of a god of its own creating, 
in that of a man so far above the rank of ordinary mortals, as to 
be approximated to that of the gods of fable. Having advanced, 
therefore, to within a becoming distance from him, I received him, 
in silence, with the salute of my sword. I could do no more; I 
becamo actually giddy ; for an instant my vision grew indistinct ; 
and, though unsurpassed as a rider, I felt unsteady in my seat, and 
almost ready to fall from my horse, under the shock of my failure, 
a shock trebly strengthened and embittered by its occurrence at 
the head of the band I commanded, and under the eye of the man 
I almost adored. My employment of the term " adored" is neither 
unpremeditated nor inadvertent. It is deliberate and earnest. 
For, were it alleged in disfavor of me, that I actually idolized the 
illustrious personage then before me, I could hardly appeal to my 
conscience for the incorrectness of the charge. 

Quick to perceive my embarrassment, and equally inclined and 
prompt to relieve it, Washington returned my salute with marked 
courtesy, and, speaking kindly, paused for a moment, and then 
desired that we might proceed, I riding abreast of him, on his 
left, and the privates of my escort falling in double file into the 
rear. This opportune measure set me more at my ease; but still 
I did not venture to open my lips, until my silence rendered me 
seriously apprehensive that the President would deem me wholly 
incompetent to the complimentary duty on which I had been 



92 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

dispatched. And that thought produced in me a fresh embitter- 
ment. But many minutes had not elapsed when my condition 
and prospects began to brighten. 

Fortunately, I possessed an intimate and accurate acquaintance 
with the people and localities of the tract of country through 
which we were to journey, as well as with its general and special 
history, both remote and recent. And it had been the theatre of 
several memorable enterprises and scenes of battle and blood, 
during the revolutionary war. Most of the conflicts had occurred 
between Whigs and Tories ; but some of them between the troops 
under General Greene and Lord Cornwallis. And respecting each 
and all of them, I had learned so much from my revolutionary 
father and brothers, who had been engaged in several of them, 
that my familiarity with them was almost as minute and vivid as 
if I had been an actor in them myself. But, before speaking of 
them, I held it to be a duty, which I owed to myself, to apprise 
General Washington of the cause of my failure, on first approach- 
ing him, to tender to him the salutation to which he was entitled, 
and which I had intended. 

As soon, therefore, as I had recovered the complete command 
of my mind and my tongue, I frankly, and, now, with no lack of 
readiness and fluency, communicated to him the cause of my pre- 
vious silence. I told him that I had been dispatched by my com- 
manding officer, with the escort which I led, to meet and salute 
him, with a becoming welcome, to the State of my nativity. My 
mortifying failure to discharge that duty I entreated him to attri- 
bute to the deep and irresistible embarrassment I had experienced 
on my first approach to him. This explanation was closed by an 
assurance, under a manifestation of feeling which must have been 
obvious to him, that his presence had for a short time so com- 
pletely overawed me, as to deprive me entirely of the power of 
utterance ; and that it had been hence impossible for me to greet 
him with any other salutation than that of my sword ; which, I 
added (perhaps too ostentatiously, and, therefore, improperly), I 
would have been proud to have wielded, under his command, in 
the late war, had I not been too young. 

Giving me a look, if not of approval, certainly of neither dis- 
satisfaction nor rebuke — 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 93 

" Pray, sir," said he, " have you lived long in this part of the 
country?" 

" Ever since my childhood, sir." 

" You are then, I presume, pretty well acquainted with it." 
" Perfectly, sir ; I am familiar with every hill, and stream, and 
celebrated spot it contains." 

"During the late war, -if my information he correct, the in- 
habitants were true to the cause of their country, and brave in 
its defence." 

" Your information is correct, sir. They were, almost to a 
man, true-hearted Whigs and patriots, and as gallant soldiers as 
ever drew swords or pointed rifles in behalf of freedom. In 
Mecklenburg County, where we now are, and in Rowan, which lies 
before us, a Tory did not dare to show his face — if he were known 
to be a Tory. It was in a small town, through which we shall 
pass, that Lord Cornwallis lay encamped, when he swore that he 
had never before been in such a d — n — d nest of Whigs — for 
that he could not, in the surrounding country, procure a chicken 
or a pig for his table, or a gallon of oats for his horse, but by 
purchasing it with the blood of his soldiers, who went in quest 
of it." 

" Pray, what is the name of that town ?" 

" Charlotte, sir, the county town of Mecklenburg, and the place 
where independence was declared about a year before its declara- 
tion by Congress; and my father was one of the Whigs who were 
concerned in the glorious transaction. We shall arrive at Char- 
lotte to-morrow morning," I continued, " where you will be en- 
thusiastically received, by five hundred at least — perhaps twice 
the number, of the most respectable inhabitants of the country ; 
a large portion of whom served, in some capacity, in the revolu- 
tionary war — several of them, I believe, as officers and privates, 
under your own command. When I passed through the town 
yesterday morning, a large number of them had already assem- 
bled, and the crowd was rapidly increasing. And they are ex- 
ceedingly provident. Convinced that they cannot all be supplied 
in the town, with either food or lodging, many of them have 
brought with them large and well-covered farm-wagons, for their 
bed-chambers, and enough of substantial food, already cooked, 
for a week's subsistence. Others a°'ain have alreadv erected, and 



9-i AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

are still erecting, for their temporary residence, in the midst of a 
beautiful and celebrated grove (where a victory was gained, by a 
compan/of militia riflemen, over a party of Tarleton's dragoons), 
the very tents under which they slept as soldiers, in the service 
of their country. And they are about as obstinate and noisy a 
set of gentlemen as I have ever met, or ever wish to meet again — 
especially when in a hurry. I was obliged, much against my 
will, to hold a long parley with them, yesterday morning, when 
I wished to be in motion to meet you, lest you might anticipate 
me in reaching the boundary line of the State." 

The General was evidently pleased with my narrative, and so 
diverted by the increased freedom and ease of my manner (for I 
was now perfectly myself), that though he did not actually smile 
(for he very rarely smiled), he seemed at times, as I fancied, more 
inclined to a little merriment than to maintain unchanged his 
habitually grave and dignified aspect. 

Reference was then made to several events of note, which had 
occurred in the southern revolutionary war. And respecting 
one of them, in particular, of great brilliancy, and no little mo- 
ment, I was astonished to find that I was much better informed 
than "Washington himself. To such an extent was this true, that 
he appeared to be even more astonished than I was. Indeed, 
from some of the expressions used by him, I was at first appre- 
hensive that he was incredulous of my story. This induced me 
to speak with more energy and positiveness than I had previously 
employed, and to specify a few of the most striking and memora- 
ble incidents of the affair. I allude to the battle at Eamsauer's 
Mill, in which about three hundred Vv T higs, then fresh from their 
homes, and who had never before been in a field of battle, attacked 
and defeated, with great slaughter, in a selected and fortified 
position, twelve hundred Tories, and made six hundred of them 
prisoners. 

The reason why I was better informed than "Washington, re- 
specting this gallant and sanguinary action, is plain and satisfac- 
tory. It had been fought in an obscure and rather ' frontier 
situation, in the South, by two bodies of militia, and had never 
been fully recorded in print. To Washington, therefore, no 
opportunity to read an account of it had been presented ; a 
formal dispatch respecting it had not been forwarded to him, 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 95 

because it Lad no immediate connection with the regular army; 
and the sphere of his operations being in the North, little or no 
correct intelligence in relation to it had been communicated to 
him through any other channel. 

But very different had been my opportunity to acquire informa- 
tion with regard to that action. "With a large portion of the 
Whigs engaged in it, my father and brothers were acquainted 
at the time ; and with not a few of them I myself became ac- 
quainted, as a youth, at a subsequent period. Nor was this all. 
One of my brothers had himself been deeply concerned in the 
battle, having led into it about sixty of the most disciplined and 
expert riflemen in the country. 

From my early boyhood, therefore, I had been familiar with 
the details of the " Battle of Ramsauer's Mill," having heard them 
recited scores of times, in the form of a fireside and exciting 
story. 

I need hardly remark that, by the indulgent attention with 
which the President honored my narratives and representations, 
and the kind and complimentary replies he occasionally made to 
me, I was highly gratified. He at length inquired of me whether 
he might expect to meet at Charlotte any of the leading members 
of the convention which prepared and passed the Mecklenburg 
Declaration of Independence, and especially whether my father 
would be there. I replied that my father was dead, and that Dr. 
Prevard, the author of the Declaration, was also dead; that, of 
the members of the convention still living, I knew personally but 
two — Adam Alexander, who had been president of the body, and 
John McKnitt Alexander, his brother, who had been its Secre- 
tary ; that they were far advanced in life, and lived at some dis- 
tance from Charlotte, but that I felt confident their ever-green 
spirit of patriotism, united to their strong desire to see him, would 
bring them there, should they be able to travel. 

On the evening of that day, having arrived at the head-quarters 
of the troop to which I belonged, I surrendered my place to my 
superiors in rank, and received from Washington, in their pre- 
sence, a compliment — peculiarly gratifying to me, as well on ac- 
count of the manner of its bestowal as of its own import — on what 
he was pleased to pronounce my "honorable and exemplary de- 
portment as an officer, and the interesting and valuable informa- 



96 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

tion I had imparted to him respecting the country and its inhabit- 
ants" through which I had escorted him. 

During Washington's stay in Salisbury, I was much around 
his person, in the capacity of junior master of ceremony, and 
when the General left Salisbury, on his way to the north, I again, 
at the head of a new and larger escort, attended him to Guildford 
Courthouse, the celebrated battleground of Greene and Corn- 
wallis, a distance, as well as I now remember, of about sixty 
miles. Having there conducted him over the field of action of 
the two armies, according to the best information I could collect 
respecting its localities and limits, we returned to the Court- 
house, where, conformably to my orders, I reluctantly took leave 
of him — he, to proceed on his journey to the then seat of govern- 
ment, and I to retrace my route to the South. Nor, highly flat- 
tered as I had been by his notice of me, and even by occasional 
marks of his apparent partiality toward me, and sincerely attached 
as I had become to his person, was the act of leave-taking, on 
my part, without much more emotion than I believed I should 
experience. 

Having paid to him, at the head of my little squadron, the 
farewell ceremony, in military style, and being about to issue the 
command to move forward, Washington beckoned me to ap- 
proach him. Having eagerly advanced to within a suitable dis- 
tance, he bowed in his saddle, and extended to me his hand. 
That act, accompanied, as I fancied it to be, by an appearance, in 
his countenance, of marks of feeling, again completely unmanned 
and silenced me. As, on first meeting him, I was able to greet 
him only with my sword, I could now bid him a personal fare- 
well in no other way than by the pressure of his hand ; and, 
observing my emotion, my eyes once more swimming in tears, 
he returned the pressure, and addressed to me a few words, thank- 
ing me courteously for my devoted attention, and what he was 
pleased to call my numerous services to him, and hoping to see 
me during the prosecution of my studies in Philadelphia, to which 
place I had apprised him of my intention to repair, he again 
pressed my hand, and was forthwith in motion. 

For a moment, I fancied my behavior to have been so un- 
soldier-like, that I almost hesitated to assume my station at the 
head of my escort; but, casting a look toward it, as it stood 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 97 

motionless in column, I perceived several of its members, some 
years older than myself, and noted for tbeir firmness, wiping the 
moisture from their eyes, as I had just done from mine, and that 
sight did much to reconcile me to myself. It convinced me that 
the scene I had just passed through had been a moving one; and 
that, when affection is awakened, it is not unmanly for even a 
soldier to weep. I therefore replaced myself at their head, and 
led my comrades back to Salisbury. 

Though the few facts and opinions respecting Washington con- 
tained in the foregoing pages are not, as I flatter myself, alto- 
gether without interest, yet do they give but a very partial and 
incompetent view of that wonderful man. They speak of him as 
little else than a mere courteous and unostentatious traveller, 
everywhere all but idolized by the people; but they do not un- 
fold the grounds of the ardent devotion and veneration he re- 
ceived; nor can that ground be made sufficiently known, except 
by a suitable reference to the several exalted offices held by him 
at different times, the duties of which he so illustriously dis- 
charged. To be made known as he was to those who have never 
seen him, and who, therefore, judge of him only from common 
report, or even common history, which is not much better, Wash- 
ington must be correctly analyzed in his personal appearance, 
and in the several characters in which he figured — as a man, a 
warrior and a commander of armies, a statesman, a patriot and 
sage, a chief magistrate, and a writer of the English tongue. In 
some of those high and various capacities, I have endeavored to 
give a brief account of him, in a public address which I subse- 
quently delivered, and which may (should it be deemed advisable) 
be printed as an Appendix to this work. 

The transactions just recited, occurred, I think, in the month 
of August, 1792, and on the first of the following October I set 
out for Philadelphia, to prosecute my studies under the auspices 
of the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania. 

In the execution of that design, I journeyed on horseback to 
the sea-coast of my native State, and thence by water to New 
York. Prom that city, which, compared to the immensity of its 
present size, was then but a village, I proceeded by land and 
water to the place of my destination. 

In this long and circuitous journey, but few incidents occurred 
7 



98 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

to me worthy of either remark or remembrance. In my overland 
passage to Swansborough, a small village situated on tbe sea-coast 
of North Carolina, where I shipped for New York, I travelled 
through a wide belt of sandy country, generally overshadowed 
by forests of lofty pines, traversed, in some places, by half stag- 
nant and dark-colored streams of water, with oozy margins, and 
in others overspread by extensive marshes. In the latter situa- 
tions, I found, on inquiry, according to my expectation, that most 
new-comers were destined to undergo what is called a seasoning, 
consisting in two or three successive visitations of intermitting or 
remitting fever, in the autumns of as many successive years. 
And I further found, that even the acclimated and the native 
inhabitants experienced, if not annually, at least frequently, more 
or less annoyance from the same form of disease. Yet, notwith- 
standing these circumstances so subversive of health, and repeat- 
edly so unfriendly to the duration of life, I was surprised to 
learn, first from information communicated to me on sound 
authority, and afterwards from personal observation, that, even 
in the sickliest places, there existed many instances of remark- 
able longevity, in some cases extending to the verge of a 
century, and, in a few, beyond it. Tbe latter I observed chiefly 
if not only among the African race. Hence it did not surprise 
me, as it did many others, to find in the census (for 1840) of 
North Carolina, a record of more than three hundred centena- 
rians, upwards, I think, of two-thirds of them negroes. Though 
fully equal to them, however, in longevity, and I believe also in 
fruitfulness, the native population of the low and flat region of 
North Carolina is greatly inferior to that of the hill and mountain 
regions, in size, strength, and activity, a fact which soon and 
very forcibly arrested my attention. In proof of the productive- 
ness of the inhabitants of the low country, one instance presented 
itself, not a little to my surprise, at the time, and which, in my 
subsequent travels and observations, in different countries, I have 
never but once seen equalled. 

Calling one morning at a private dwelling (there being few 
inns on the road which I travelled) to procure breakfast for my- 
self and food for my horse, I observed within the houses, and on the 
grounds around it, an uncommon number of children, of various 
sizes and ages, ranging apparently from those of two or three, to 
those of fourteen or fifteen years. Believing them, of course, to 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 99 

be the product of three or four families, residing either in the 
same building or in several very near to each other, I paid at first 
but little attention to them. Finding, however, in the immediate 
place, but one man and woman, and there being no other dwell- 
ings within sight, I concluded that they were the members of an 
adjacent school. But, on observing them somewhat closely, I dis- 
covered between most of them an evident family likeness. Nor 
was that all. I further perceived that their difference in size and 
apparent age resembled very much that of the elder and younger 
children of the same family. Inquisitive as I was, even at that 
period of my life, after materials connected with the history and phi- 
losophy of the human race, that discovery awakened my curiosity : 
and I resolved on a thorough investigation of the subject of it. 

I learned by inquiring of the matron of the house, when her 
husband was employed in the stable with my horse, that their 
family consisted of three and twenty children — all of them her 
husband's and eleven of them her own. She told me, that theirs 
was the largest family she knew, though several of her neighbors 
had twelve children, and most of them as many as eight. 

My conversation with my landlady being finished, I proceeded 
on my journey, and reached Swansborough in a few days. 

Though I had previously both studied and taught the prin- 
ciples of navigation, I had never, until now, seen a sail-vessel, 
and, of course, had no practical knowledge of ships. I therefore, 
without making any inquiry as to her character and fitness, em- 
barked immediately in the only vessel in port bound for New 
York. And now, knowing as I do somewhat more about sea- 
vessels, their magnitude, strength, and safety on the ocean, nothing 
could tempt me to embark in the same craft, on the same voyage. 
and at the same season of the year. 

Though not an incident worthy of recital occurred in my pro- 
gress from New York to Philadelphia, yet is the reminiscence of 
that portion of my journey, in one respect, replete with interest. 
My passage from city to city was made by water to South Am- 
boy; thence by land to Burlington; and thence again by water 
to Philadelphia. And, with all the speed I could command, it 
occupied nearly forty-eight hours, and not one of them an hour 
of inaction. But such are the improvements in the science and 
practice of locomotion, made since that period, that the same 
journey is now performed in six hours. 



100 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



CHAPTER III. 

Philadelphia — Eloquence — Pulpit — Bar — Mr. L s — Mr T. — His daughter — 

Medical school — The Faculty — Shippen — His appearance — Character — Punc- 
tuality — Rush — His introductory — Khun — Wistar — His character — His classical 
learning. 

I AM now (October, 1792) in Philadelphia, the largest city in 
the United States. New York being in no small degree inferior 
to it, in both commerce and population. Nor, in these respects, 
did the latter city begin to gain, with any considerable rapidity, 
on the former, until the occurrence of yellow fever in the year 
1793. During nearly four months of that fatal year, not only 
did the pestilence alluded to spread desolation and dismay 
throughout the city of Philadelphia; it threw over the whole 
country a panic and gloomy apprehension of evil altogether 
unprecedented, from a like cause, on this side of the Atlantic. 
Nor is it believed to have been exceeded, by the terror arising 
from a pestilential visitation, in any other known portion of the 
globe. For some time after the alarm had reached its height, the 
crowded roads and rapid retreat of the citizens into the adjacent 
country, resembled the flight of the inhabitants of a city, about 
to be sacked and burnt, by an invading army. And so thoroughly, 
I say, did that alarm penetrate the entire Union, that no one from 
any portion of it ventured to approach the infected spot. This 
fearful state of things banished, during its continuance, all the 
coasting trade from the wharves of Philadelphia to those of New 
York ; and the dread of its annual return did the same thing 
during the following summers. Add to this, that the navigation 
of the Bay of New York is open during the winter, while that of 
the Delaware Bay is ice-bound ; and the two obstacles united, 
shut up the port of Philadelphia against a very large proportion 
of the coasting trade of the Union, and left open to it the port of 
her more fortunately situated rival. Such was the commencement 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 101 

of that career of commercial success, which, within the last forty 
years, has given to New York such a vast and still increasing 
ascendency over her sister cities, in population and trade. And, 
to render that ascendency permanent, various and powerful causes 
have contributed. But to proceed more directly in the course of 
my narrative. 

On my arrival in Philadelphia, I was virtually as complete a 
stranger as was Franklin when he entered it, upwards of sixty 
years before me. In the entire population of it, there was, as far 
as I was apprised, but one person to whom I was known, or who 
was known to me. He was a native of Salisbury, and, like myself, 
a student of medicine, who, during the preceding winter, had 
attended the lectures in the University of Pennsylvania. He 
had been, however, from the time of our first acquaintance, pri- 
vately unfriendly to me, and was prevented from being publicly 
so, only by an unwillingness to meet the consequence. 

But, notwithstanding his dislike of me, he called on me as soon 
as he was informed of my being in the place, and, with apparent 
candor, tendered to me his services. The acceptance of his offer 
I promptly declined, without even thanking him for making it: 
because I could not reconcile myself to the practice, of which I 
knew he had been guilty, of sacrificing sound principle to insin- 
cere profession. As far, therefore, as he was concerned, I took 
myself into my own keeping, and held no further intercourse 
with him. And after having squandered in idleness and dissi- 
pation a handsome paternal estate of his own, and nearly all the 
property bequeathed by his father to two sisters, of which, as 
their guardian, he fraudulently took possession, and used as his 
own, he died, a few years ago, in Nashville, Tennessee, intempe- 
rate, penniless, and alone, in a cellar. Yet did no young man 
whom I knew at the time enter professional life under more 
propitious auspices, had he correctly availed himself of the ad- 
vantages in his power. 

I bore with me to Philadelphia two letters of introduction, to 
gentlemen of whom I knew nothing, save their names and occu- 
pation. The first of the two, on whom I called to deliver my 
letter, I found to be so utterly different, in all his external attri- 
butes, from what I had hoped and expected him to be, and so 
entirely wanting in such qualities and accomplishments as would 



102 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

alone have justified and reconciled me to myself in holding com- 
panionship with him, that a scheme was immediately devised by 
me to bar the formation of so unpromising an acquaintance. 

Intimating a suspicion, or, at least, a possibility, that I might 
have committed a mistake in calling on him, I asked him whether 
there were not in the city another gentleman of the same name 
with himself. He, much to my gratification, replied in the af- 
firmative. My next inquiry related to the place of residence of 
his namesake ? This question also having been answered to my 
satisfaction, I rose, and, thanking him for his politeness, took my 
leave and never troubled him with another visit. 

The other gentleman to whom I bore a letter, was a very intel- 
ligent and respectable mechanic. To him I had been directed by 
my preceptor, under an expectation that I might become, for a 
time, a member of his family, as he himself had been. 

In this design I succeeded, and continued to reside with him 
until after my graduation, a sojourn which included a period of 
four years. By a course of civility and respect toward him and 
his wife (a deportment to which they were amply entitled), I soon 
became and remained a favorite in the family, and received from 
them many and very valuable services. Not only did they act 
toward me with great kindness, and afford me every requisite 
accommodation, during my pupilage ; immediately on my attain- 
ment of the doctorate in my profession, they employed me as 
their family physician, and procured for me the patronage of 
many of their acquaintances. And never was a favor more op- 
portunely bestowed. For, not only had I expended, in my edu- 
cation, and in the purchase of books and other articles, the last 
dollar of my patrimony, and of the funds procured by my own 
exertions, I had contracted several debts, which, however light 
they might have been to many others, were to me both heavy 
and seriously annoying. Yet was I, by the favors referred to, 
enabled to discharge them, at a much earlier period than my in- 
dulgent creditors were prepared to expect. But more of this at 
a future time. 

To proceed in my narrative, I was now, as must be obvious to 
the reader, about to commence what may well be denominated a 
new life. As already mentioned, I was in the largest city of the 
United States, in the capacity of an entire stranger, wholly inex- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 103 

perienced in such a community, unaided by any counsel on which 
I was authorized to rely, and, therefore, obliged myself to devise 
and execute my schemes of action, and thus work out my own 
destiny, with my own resources, and by my own deeds. But, to 
me, who, since my fourteenth year, had relied on myself alone, 
and had never yet failed in a single project, in which I had en- 
gaged with determination and forethought, those privations offered 
no discouragement. Added to a preceding series of successful 
adventures, and a disposition sufficiently sanguine and irrepressi- 
ble, I possessed youth, and health, and hope, habits of industry 
fully confirmed by years of trial, an ardent thirst for knowledge 
and distinction, unyielding resolution, and a fearless spirit of en- 
terprise and perseverance, and these are attributes of mind and 
body which stand related to us in the character of friends that 
neither slander nor betray us, and, if judiciously directed, rarely 
fail to insure success to us, whatever be our pursuit. And it will 
appear hereafter, that to me they were not the harbingers of fail- 
ure. For I need hardly add (having heretofore expressed myself 
to the same effect), that I commenced my studies in the University 
of Pennsylvania, under an irrevocable determination to succeed 
and distinguish myself in them, provided all my resources of mind, 
opportunity, industry, and labor could secure a result in itself so 
important, and so earnestly craved by me. 

As I arrived in Philadelphia about the twenty-third or fourth 
of October, a week or ten days had yet to elapse before the open- 
ing of the medical lectures. To gratify, therefore, my present 
wishes, and prevent, as far as practicable, subsequent interrup- 
tions, I availed myself of the leisure thus afforded me to take a 
survey of the city (which I had already half determined to make 
my place of permanent abode), and to visit the most remarkable 
objects of curiosity it contained. 

In the execution of this plan, the first visit of inspection I paid 
was to Peale's Museum. And this fact I mention, not for the 
sake of embracing an opportunity to speak of the great interest 
and value attached to that* establishment, at the time, but rather 
the reverse. The interest it excited and its value, like itself, were 
exceedingly circumscribed. Though I do not say that it was the 
exact counterpart of the "needy shop" of Eomeo's apothecary 
(whom sharp miser}' had worn to the bones), in which — 



104 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

"A tortoise hung, 
An alligator stuffed, and other skins 
Of ill-shaped fishes ; and about his shelves, 
A beggarly account of empty boxes, 
Green earthen pots, bladders, and musty seeds, 
Remnants of packthread, and old cakes of roses 
Were thinly scattered to make up a show." 

Though I do not say that the museum was an exhibition of pre- 
cisely this description, I do say that it was a very meagre and 
miserable one. The whole collection was contained in the front 
parlor of a house, on the northeast corner of Lombard and Third 
Streets, not, I think, more than eighteen feet square. Yet such 
was the growth of that collection, effected almost exclusively by 
the industry and perseverance of one man, and, perhaps, two of 
his sons, that it since filled nearly every spot of one of the most 
spacious edifices in Philadelphia. That vast augmentation of the 
number, value, and variety of articles was made, by the indi- 
viduals referred to, in little more than half a century. And the 
collection finally became nearly, if not quite as extensive as that 
of any of the royal museums I have visited in Europe, which are 
the accumulations of several hundreds of years. Peale's Museum 
may be regarded, at present, as a well-provided breviat of the 
productions of our globe. Such are the effects to which, under 
the direction of judgment and a spirit of enterprise, even single- 
handed industry and perseverance are competent. 

Having been always a passionate admirer of eloquence of a high 
order, and presuming that the orators of Philadelphia, the largest, 
and most literary, and most intellectually accomplished city in 
the Union, were distinguished masters of it, I was peculiarly 
anxious to witness their performances, and to fancy myself listen- 
ing to the overwhelming rhetoric of a Pericles, or a Cicero, a 
Bossuet, a Whitfield, or a Henry. And I was resolved to derive 
my first draught of delight from the eloquence of the pulpit. 

Conformably to this determination, on the first Sunday after 
my arrival in the metropolis of the country, I repaired to Christ's 
Church (the St. Peter's or St. Paul's of«the city), to banquet on the 
oratory of some eloquent Episcopalian. Being late in my arrival 
at the church (for I had no particular desire to witness the intro- 
ductory exercise), just as I entered, the Eeverend Mr. McC arose, 
dressed in full pulpit costume, to commence his sermon, and ex- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M.D. 105 

hibit a specimen of Lis long- practised oratory. And to me, an 
extraordinary specimen it was. 

The appearance of the speaker, unpromising as it was (and 
nature, in her most frolicksome mood, could hardly have rendered 
it more so), was exceeded, if possible, by the failure of his per- 
formance. Ilis oratory, instead of being (as I had anticipated) 
the most highly finished and delightful I had ever listened to, 
was much nearer being the most defective and miserable. Not 
only was it tasteless and unattractive, it was a rare and high- 
finished specimen of unsophisticated unpalatableness. From the 
beginning to the end of his sermon, the gentleman so courtesied, 
bobbed, and tip-toed from side to side of the pulpit, and so fini- 
cally gesticulated with his hands and arms, as actually to resemble 
a conceited dancing master moving in a minuet. And his utter- 
ance was precisely the counterpart of his action. Nor was the 
substance of his discourse much more commendable. 

Take the preacher and his performance, " for all in all," I had 
never witnessed a more unprepossessing spectacle in a speaker, 
or a more repulsive failure in rhetoric. 

But great as was my disappointment, and deep my dissatisfac- 
tion and regret, I was not yet discouraged in my hope; nor bad 
my eloquence-seeking ardor in any degree abated. I still, there- 
fore, believed that there were in store for me more accomplished 
exhibitions in oratory, and higher gratification as their product. 

It was understood that, on the evening of the same day, at 

early candle-light, the Rev. Mr. G , a Presbyterian clergyman, 

much younger than the Episcopalian of the morning, and of much 
higher repute in the art of speaking, was to preach a stated, and, 
of course, a studied, well prepared, and carefully delivered sermon. 

Thither, therefore, I repaired, with an eager step, not merely 
trusting, but firmly believing, that I was about to be recompensed 
for my previous disappointment. And that my enjoyment of the 
ccena attica — the banquet of eloquence — might be the more 
exquisite and complete, I managed matters so as to have myself 
conducted by the doorkeeper or sexton, to a seat immediately in 
advance of the pulpit, and at a distance from it suitable to my 
purpose. 

Under these circumstances, when the psalm-singing and prayer 
by another clergyman were finished, and the speaker of the 



106 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

evening rose and advanced to the front of the pulpit, my heart 
fairly throbbed with anticipated delight— for his appearance was 
prepossessing and full of promise. But a few minutes were 
sufficient to dissipate the illusion. 

No sooner had he formally assumed his attitude as an orator, 
thrown toward the several divisions of the house a corresponding 
number of devout and solemn casts of his eyes, and commenced 
his discourse, than I felt an impulse of disappointment, mingled 
with feelings of dissatisfaction and disgust, that was actually 
painful to me. Could I have made my way to the door, without 
being noticed, I should have promptly left the house and returned 
to my lodgings. But that was impossible. I was therefore com- 
pelled to brace myself to the Herculean task of sitting a full hour 
under the influence of a discourse, marked, in its delivery, by a 
degree of drawling sing-song, and snuffling nasal twang, that 
would have better suited the time of Oliver Cromwell, than the 
close of the eighteenth century ; and that would have fallen more 
aptly from the tongue of a " Praise-God-Bare-bones" of the former 
period, than from that of a much lauded orator of the latter. 

Thus vanished, like a vapor, the anticipation I had cherished, 
of being highly gratified by the pulpit oratory of the celebrated 
city of Brotherly Love. Yet had the steadiness and intensity 
with which I had regarded the preacher, throughout his whole 
discourse, been so obvious and striking, as to attract the notice 
of the very intelligent and respectable gentleman, who had kindly 
accommodated me with a seat in his pew. This fact I had an 
opportunity of learning immediately, in a way that was pleasing 
to me at the time, and which subsequently led to a profitable 
result. To myself, therefore, the reminiscence has been always 
gratifying, and to the reader will not, I trust, be entirely the 
contrary. 

On grounds of courtesy I felt myself bound to accompany to 
the door of the meeting-house the gentleman and his family, in 
whose pew I had passed the evening, thank him for his civility, 
and then take leave of him. 

As the evening was cool, I wore my travelling fur-cap, having 
around it a narrow gold-lace band, and my travelling surtout, 
with a sable-skin collar. "With these articles I had provided 
myself, by advice, as a protection to my southern constitution, 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 107 

against the temperature of a Philadelphia winter. I also carried 
a handsome but substantial sword-cane, as a protection against 
certain other evils, should they at any time present themselves. 

This costume being unique in the place (I mean in the congre- 
gation) could not well fail to attract attention. This, moreover, I 
observed to be actually the case, with regard to Mr. T. (the initial of 
my new friend's name), and his wife, a very comely, matronly lady, 
but more especially in relation to the younger branches of the 
family who had accompanied their parents to the place of worship. 
From some remark made by the gentleman, as well as from what 
I observed or fancied, in his deportment toward me, I felt in- 
clined to believe that he was desirous of knowing somewhat 
more respecting me than he had yet learned. And to gratify him 
in that desire, if indeed he entertained it, I had no objection. 
Perhaps I even experienced myself a slight desire to the same 
effect. 

Instead, therefore, of taking leave of him, as soon as we reached 
the door, observing that he turned along Arch Street, toward the 
Kiver Delaware (the course which I myself intended to pursue), 
I stepped along with him until we came to Third Street (its 
name, however, being then unknown to me), when I said to him : 
" Pray, sir, what street is this ?" 

" Third Street, sir I" 

" Will you have the goodness, sir, to inform me, whether the 
City Tavern" (the place where I had taken temporary lodging), 
" stands on this street?" 

" It does not, sir ! it stands on Second, near the corner of Dock 
Street." 

" Then I must find my way there, if practicable." 

" ! sir, nothing can be more easy. Our streets are so straight 
and regular, you can't miss your way." 

"Not, sir, if I were as intimate as your citizens are, with all 
the courses, objects, and angles of your streets. But an entire 
stranger to them, as I am, I have seen many a dense and pathless 
forest, in which I could find places much more easily and certainly 
than I can in Philadelphia, straight and regular as its streets are. 
Clustering trees, in the backwoods of the South, are objects and 
landmarks much more familiar to me, and more easily remem- 
bered, because I have held more companionship with them, than 



108 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

with rows of brick houses, all so much alike that it is difficult to 
distinguish any one of them from its fellows." 

All this I said, with a light and careless half cavalier air, for 
a twofold purpose — to affect more ignorance of the city than I 
really experienced, and thereby to draw on myself still further 
notice — and to show that, new and embarrassing as my case might 
be to me, I was quite easy under it. 

" Are you then," said Mr. T., " so great a stranger in Phila- 
delphia?" 

"Just as great, sir, as three days sojourn in a place which I 
never saw before, and in which I am neither known to anybody, 
nor anybody known to me, can make me — and, I may add, in 
which, after a stroll of an hour or two, night before last (I know 
neither where nor in what direction) I had some difficulty in 
finding my way home again." 

" It shall be my care, sir, that you fare better to-night. The 
City Tavern lies directly in my way home ; and if you will accom- 
pany me, I will show you the house." 

"That I will do with pleasure, sir; not, however, without one 
slight misgiving." 

"And pray, what is that?" 

" Why, sir, you are laying me, by your politeness, under so 
many obligations, that I shall never be able to cancel them ; nor 
perhaps have any opportunity even to make an effort to that 
effect — and I do not like to be in debt." 

" That account will be easily settled." 

After this brief and decisive reply, we passed on for a moment 
or two, in silence, toward the City Tavern, and the dwelling of 
Mr. T. 

The party consisted of two gentlemen, Mr. T. and myself, and 
three females — Mrs. T., who was leaning on her husband's arm, 
and two others, one of them about fourteen or fifteen years of 
age, and the other about eleven or twelve. The pavement over 
which we were passing, being somewhat irregular and rough — 
rendered so by the " wear and tear" of time, and the tread on the 
bricks of the multitudes that daily passed over it — the younger of 
the two girls stumbled, and would have fallen, had I not caught 
and supported her. 

Availing myself of this little accident, I said to the gentleman, 
somewhat gayly, perhaps, in manner, but sincerely in disposition : 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 109 

"To convince you, sir, of my desire to return, as far as possible, 
some of the favors you have so kindly conferred on me, I hope 
to be permitted so far to take care of these two young ladies, 
whom I suppose to be your daughters, as to assist them in walk- 
ing over this time-worn pavement of yours, which is as ragged 
and rugged as a back-country highway guttered by wagon-wheels." 

While thus speaking, I placed myself between the two girls, 
and, offering my arm to the elder, took the younger by the hand, 
and said to her, with a slight pressure of it, and in a kind and pro- 
tecting tone: "Now you are secure, and have nothing to fear 
from these ugly brickbats." 

At the same moment, the mother, looking round, and seeing 
the position I had taken between her two daughters, said to the 
elder, in approval of my offer: "Betsy, take the gentleman's 
arm." This the young lady immediately did, in an easy and 
graceful manner, as if familiar with the practice; and thus we 
passed onward, without any further conversation, except a few 
commonplace remarks made by me to the elder daughter. 

At length Mr. T., making a halt, and pointing to a large adja- 
cent building, said : " This, sir, is the City Tavern ; you will, 
therefore, allow us to bid you good-night." 

"Not yet, sir, if you please," was my reply. "I do not like 
half-done work. You have very kindly piloted me to my lodg- 
ing; and, with your and your lady's permission, I shall be much 
gratified by attending your daughters home, and protecting them 
from any further accident in these streets of yours, which, as you 
say, are straight and regular enough; while very little, as I think, 
can be said in favor of their smoothness." So on we went, until 
our arrival at Mr. T.'s door. 

After a pause there, as brief as it could well be made, I lifted 
my cap to take leave of the party, when the mother courteously 
invited me to enter the house. Regarding this in the light of a 
mere compliment, and having no desire to spend any more time 
in my accidental adventure, I promptly, but civilly, declined the 
invitation, on the plea of wishing to prepare letters for the South, 
to be dispatched by the mail of the next day. 

"But," said Mr. T., with something like banter and archness 
in his manner, " will you be able to find your way back to the 
City Tavern ?" 



110 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

" I presume so," was my somewhat dubious reply. 

" I really doubt it," said he, taking me by the arm. " To make 
short work of the matter, come in, take a glass of wine, and, with 
your permission, I will be once more your guide to the City 
Tavern." 

At the same time, the younger sister, who had just separated 
herself from me, took hold of my hand again, and gave me, in a 
gentle pull, and an affectionate look, a much stronger invitation 
than that which I had just received from her parents. Accord- 
ingly into the house I went, the little girl actually leading me, 
seated myself as requested, drank a glass of wine, conversed, for 
a few minutes, on some everyday topic, and then rising, begged 
Mr. T. not to take the trouble of reconducting me to my lodging, 
earnestly assuring him that I could certainly and easily find the 
way myself. But my entreaty was bootless. To neither argu- 
ment nor persuasion would the gentleman even listen, much less 
yield to them. I therefore accepted the offered civility, took a 
respectful leave of the family, and set out on my return, accom- 
panied by the head of it. 

No sooner was I again in the street than I perceived, what I 
had previously suspected, that Mr. T. was desirous of acquiring 
more knowledge of me than he yet possessed. He courteously 
and delicately asked me my name, my place of residence, and my 
occupation, especially whether I was not in military life, telling 
mc that, from his first sight of me, he had believed me, from my 
costume and bearing, to be a young officer from the army, then 
in the West, under the command of General Wayne. I willingly 
satisfied him on these points ; and by this time, though we had 
walked slowly, we were at the door of the City Tavern. And 
Mr. T., declining an invitation to accompany me to my chamber, 
on account of the lateness of the hour, cordially shook my hand, 
wished me a good-night, and courteously invited me to visit his 
family, as might be convenient and agreeable to me. 

Nor did I afterwards fail to receive from him more substantial 
evidence confirmatory of my opinion. For, though I did not, 
during my pupilage, consume time in formal visits to his family, 
I maintained a very friendly intercourse with it, until the time 
of my professional graduation, and my engagement in practice. 
During the whole of this period, moreover, which amounted to 



M.D. 111 

four years, the younger daughter of the family, whose affection- 
ate feeling I had awakened, in the manner I already stated, 
continued to manifest toward me the attachment of a sister to a 
brother. And, while yellow fever was spreading havoc and 
dismay through Philadelphia, in the year 1797, I had the grati- 
fication of rescuing her, as was generally believed, from a very 
formidable attack of that pestilence. Not only the event itself, 
but the circumstances attending it were peculiarly interesting to 
me, as well as useful. 

The story has been already committed to paper and published, 
by my permission, in Boston, anno 1834:, in a prize dissertation, 
entitled " Thoughts on Quarantine and other Sanitary Systems." 

In the page where it commences, I have represented the mis- 
chief often done, by timid physicians, to their patients laboring 
under diseases deemed contagious, by their reluctance to approach 
them, their prescribing for them at a distance, and the unmanly 
timidity they manifest, when near to them, in their mode of 
examining their symptoms. 

I need hardly remark, that the event just narrated was as 
useful to me, in my capacity as a physician, as it was gratifying 
to me in that of a man. Not only did it secure to me the place 
of family physician to Mr. T. and many of his friends, it 
gained for me the confidence of persons attacked by yellow fever 
(not a few of whom soon afterwards employed me), and this intro- 
duced me, in a few weeks, into a greater amount of contingent 
and family practice than I could have reasonably anticipated in 
as many years.- — Nor did any material portion of the professional 
business, thus acquired, pass from me into other hands until 
twenty years afterwards, when I resigned it, on receiving an 
invitation to migrate to the AY est, and commence my career, as 
a public teacher, in Transylvania University. Such is the oppor- 
tunity of success in his profession which a single, and even a 
slight incident, may place within the power of a young physician, 
provided he has the industry and the ability to improve it, and 
turn it to the account of which it is susceptible. But to return 
to my narrative. 

Though twice disappointed in my anticipation of delight from 
Philadelphia eloquence, I was neither discouraged in hope, nor 



112 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

deterred from a further pursuit of the much-desired and long 
looked-for enjoyment. 

On the morning of Monday, therefore, the day after my double 
disappointment in relation to pulpit eloquence, I repaired to the 

court-house, where I was told that Mr. L s, the ablest Jurist 

and counsellor, and the most eloquent bar orator of the place, 
was engaged to speak in a case whose magnitude and importance 
would call forth the manifestation of all his powers. When I 
reached the house, the eager and rapidly increasing multitude 
which I found in and around it, induced me to hope at least, if 
not firmly to believe, that a baDquet of eloquence was about to 
be served up, sufficiently rich, abundant, and racy to make ample 
amends for the meagreness and insipidity of the two at which I 
had been recently a guest. Determined, therefore, to have my 
full share of it, I forced my way through the dense mass of 
human beings that stood before me, until I reached the outer bar 
of the court; and there I took my station, resolved not to sur- 
render it, except to recognized authority, or to some individual 
venerable from age, and, no such authority or claim interposing, 
I maintained it, by stern mental and muscular resistance, notwith- 
standing several earnest and vigorous attempts to displace me. 

At length the judges appeared and took their seats; silence was 
commanded and attained, the requisite preliminary business was 
finished, and the orator arose; and my first glance at him was 
the reverse of encouraging. A more unsymmetrical, ungainly, 
and to me, for the moment, unpromising figure, in the image of 
man, I had rarely if ever beheld. He was tall, gaunt, and ill- 
shaped, and as loose-jointed as if the muscles which held his limbs 
together had been half paralyzed. For a man six feet two inches in 
stature, his trunk was very disproportionately short, and his lower 
extremities of course equally disproportioned in longitude. By 
his sides, moreover, dangled a pair of arms of almost as inordinate 
and unseemly extent as those of the long-armed ape, and far too 
fleshless to fill his coat sleeves. His cheeks were lank and hol- 
low, his complexion dingy, his face thin and hatchet like, his 
upper lip short, even to deformity, and his nose, in like deviation 
from symmetry and comeliness, far too long. In truth, so strik- 
ingly, not to say enormously, was this the case with that project- 
ing and shapeless feature, that, in its length and downward hook, 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 113 

it bore no inconsiderable resemblance to the nose of the tapir; 
and, as he stood at the inner bar, his whole form, attitude, and 
general appearance constituted a model of human ungracefulness 
equal to the most finished that fancy could frame. A little fur- 
ther and more discriminating scrutiny, however, convinced me 
that he possessed in his appearance, notwithstanding its general 
repulsiveness, several strong and redeeming points. Those con- 
sisted chiefly in the large size and excellent shape of his head, 
which, added to the dignified cast they bestowed on it, betokened 
no ordinary degree of power, the somewhat stern intensity of his 
brow, and the fire which, steadily streaming from his eye, illumi- 
nated his countenance, and gave evidence of mental ardor and 
activity. These were marks of promise and efficiency which did 
not escape me. 

At length the gentleman commenced his address in a voice 
almost as deep, sonorous, and unmusical as that of a mastiff, and 
not greatly dissimilar to it in sound. Ilence, I soon afterwards 
learned, from the half-whispers around me, that he was known 

by the coarse nickname of "Mastiff L- s." But, wanting in 

melody and gracefulness as his remarks and gesticulations were, 
they were powerful, direct to the point, and generally conclusive; 
because the action, though awkward, was sufficiently natural and 
full of meaning ; and the remarks, though characterized by neither 
grace nor refinement, were founded in truth, clearly and forcibly 
expressed, and logically arranged. And, as an evidence that they 
were so esteemed by those who listened to them, and whose duty 
it was to examine and weigh them in the scales of reason and 
conscience, they were triumphantly successful in the verdict they 
obtained. 

Still, however, the eloquence of Mr. L s was far from satis- 
fying me. That the gentleman was profound and accurate in his 
acquaintance with jurisprudence, rich in matter of illustration 
and argument, and masterly in his employment of them, I was 
thoroughly convinced. But he was far from being what the 
world calls an orator; nor was he any nearer to my own concep- 
tion of one. Having heard much better, certainly much more 
attractive speaking by Alfred Moore, General Davie, my young 
friend Henderson, and other orators, in the South, I felt confident 
that there must be also much better and more attractive eloquence 
8 



114 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

in the North ; nor did I abate in the steadiness of my resolution 
to avail myself of the earliest opportunity to listen to it; and, as 
Congress then, and for several years afterwards, sat in Philadel- 
phia, I passed many delightful and instructive hours in attending 
the debates of the House of Representatives and the Senate, when 
the most distinguished speakers in the latter body were King, 
Vining, Eutledge, and Ellsworth ; and in the former, Harper, Bay- 
ard, Eandolph, Giles, Madison, and Ames. The last-named gen- 
tleman, in particular, was decidedly one of the most splendid 
rhetoricians of the age, or, indeed, of any age. Two of his 
speeches, in a special manner — that on Jay's Treaty, and that 
usually called his " Tomahawk Speech" (because it included some 
resplendent passages on Indian massacres) — were the most bril- 
liant and fascinating specimens of eloquence I have ever heard ; 
yet have I listened to some of the most celebrated speakers in 
the British Parliament — among others, to Wilberforce and Mac- 
kintosh, Plunket, Brougham, and Canning; and Dr. Priestley, 
who was familiar with the oratory of Pitt, the father, and Pitt, 
the son, and also with that of Burke and Fox, made to myself the 
same acknowledgment, that, in his own words, the speech by 
Ames, on the British Treaty, was the "most bewitching piece of 
parliamentary oratory he had ever listened to." 

Having adverted to Mr. Madison as a speaker, I deem it due 
to the memory of that great statesman to add that, in my estima- 
tion, justice to his eloquence and power in debate has never been 
done. Though he was neither a rhetorician nor an orator of the 
highest order, as those terms are usually understood, yet was he, 
with perhaps one exception (Mr. Giles), the readiest and ablest 
debater I ever listened to, in the House of Representatives, or in 
any other deliberative body. In the British Parliament, I never 
heard his equal in debate — I mean, in the abundance and fitness 
of his matter, and the judgment and promptitude, the keenness 
of point, and the unerringness of aim, with which he employed 
it. Yet was his keenness so polished by gentlemanly courtesy, 
that it seldom if ever gave the slightest offence. Of him, on 
account of his amenity and inoffensiveness in debate, correctly 
may it be said, as Moore has said of Sheridan, that from the arena 
of controversy, he 

" Ne'er carried a heart-stain away on his blade." 



M. D. 115 

But, no more of the charms of oratory for the present. Some- 
thing much more important to a student of medicine now claims 
my attention. The session of the medical school has opened ; 
and I am in full and eager attendance on the lectures ; determined, 
as already mentioned, to derive from them, as far as possible, all 
the instruction they are calculated to impart. 

At this period, the medical school had been in existence about 
forty years ; and its Faculty was organized, and its chairs filled, 
as follows: — 

A chair of Anatomy, Surgery, and Midwifery — Dr. Shippen, 
Professor, and Dr. Wistar, his Adjunct. 

A chair of Theory and Practice of Physic — Dr. Khun, Pro- 
fessor. 

A chair of the Institutes of Medicine and Clinical Practice — 
Dr. Rush, Professor. 

A chair of Chemistry — Dr. Hutchinson, Professor. 

A chair of Materia Medica — Dr. Griffitts, Professor. 

Dr. Shippen, being the oldest of the Faculty, both as a professor 
and a man, and having been one of the original founders of the 
school, opened the session, in some style and pomp (all matters 
of ceremony at that old school aristocratic period were more 
stylish and pompous than they are at this day of homespun re- 
publicanism), by the delivery of his introductory lecture. And the 
performance was neither very imposing nor attractive. Though 
Dr. Shippen, who, in stature and figure, countenance, and general 
appearance, and style of manners, was one of the most elegant 
and gentlemanly personages of the time; and though possessed 
of an excellent and well-cultivated mind, he was a polished, and, 
when excited, an impressive, if not an eloquent public speaker ; yet 
was he far from being accomplished in the art of reading. And, 
having previously written his lecture, he read it, from a manu- 
script before him, in a dull, cold, and monotonous manner. Nor 
is the most exceptionable characteristic of the exercise yet repre- 
sented. The authorship of it was not his own, but belonged to 
his favorite, much admired, and oft-quoted master, Dr. William 
Hunter, brother of the celebrated John Hunter, of London. 
That gentleman had composed it early in life, as a standing in- 
troductory to his annual course of lectures on anatomy and mid- 
wifery. If I mistake not, moreover, it was the only one he ever 



116 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

delivered. He delivered it, I mean, as. his standing annual intro- 
ductory. And, considering the high standing of its author, it 
was but a commonplace production. The subject of it was the 
organic composition of a man. I mean the number, arrangement, 
union, general uses, reciprocal subserviences and names of the 
most important organs indispensable to the formation of a human 
being. And though the theme is a rich and beautiful one, and 
furnishes matter for a splendid philosophical discourse ; yet such 
was not the lecture long previously composed on it, by the cele- 
brated Dr. "William Hunter, and delivered, at the time, by the 
scarcely less celebrated Dr. William Shippen. I need hardly 
say, therefore, that the entire display, taken as it was, in compo- 
sition and recital, did not greatly enhance my estimation of Phila- 
delphia eloquence. 

On the day following, Dr. Eush's Introductory was delivered. 
And it was a performance much superior, in all respects, to that 
of the preceding day. It was the Doctor's own composition ; and 
though, as already stated, that gentleman was a very ordinary 
public speaker, he was one of the best public readers I have ever 
heard. As a mere colloquist, moreover, having cultivated, with 
great attention and care, the art of conversation, he was uncom- 
monly eloquent, correct, and interesting. In his lectures, and 
other public discourses, which he sometimes pronounced, he 
never attempted to be, in delivery, lofty, exciting, and impressive, 
except by reading. When he attempted to extemporize in public, 
which he rarely did, he dropped, in an instant, from his usually 
elevated pitch of reading, to a plain and unpretending conversa- 
tional manner. In truth, he was less animated and exciting, in 
his public extemporizing, than he often was in private conversa- 
tion, in his own family, and in other domestic circles. Somewhat 
surprised at this, and being sufficiently intimate with him to 
venture on such freedom of inquiry, I once asked him the reason 
of it. And, in reply, he frankly related to me, in substance, the 
following anecdote : — 

During the revolutionary war, he was an ardent and thorough- 
going Whig ; and, though possessed of no turn or taste for sol- 
diership himself, he often attended public meetings on military 
affairs. On one of those occasions, the object of which was to 
procure recruits for the American army, either as regulars or 



CHAELES CALDWELL, M. D. 117 

volunteers, he was loudly and earnestly called on to address the 
meeting, and excite as many as possible of the crowd to enroll 
themselves as soldiers in the cause of their country. "With this 
request he deemed it his duty to comply. 

The meeting was held in the place then called, in plain Quaker 
language, the " State House Yard," but now, in reformed, and 
more fashionable and courtly style, " Independence Square." To 
simplify and facilitate the mode of proceeding, the multitude was 
marshalled, in a column, along one side of the avenue, which 
passes through the square, fronting it, and immediately on its 
edge. And the order was given, that all those who were inclined 
to take up arms in defence of their country, should express their 
willingness by advancing over the avenue, and forming in column 
on the other side. 

Under this arrangement, the Doctor commenced his patriotic 
harangue — but with very little success. For a time, not a man 
moved, but all stood as still as if they had been statues. At 
length, however, a few passed over the avenue ; and the orator 
closed his speech, which had been addressed exclusively to the 
intellect of his audience. It awakened none of the warlike pas- 
sions ; nor had the Doctor either turn, tact, or power to produce 
such awakening. He had only attempted to convince his fellow- 
citizens, as reasonable men, and faithful patriots, that it would be 
virtuous and useful in them to enroll themselves, without delay, 
and, at the risk of their lives, determine to serve their country in 
arms. But, though his argument was correct, its truth unde- 
niable, its logic sound, and its language clear, classical, and 
pointed, yet was its issue a mortifying failure. The reason was 
obvious. Its manner of delivery was tame and colloquial. It 
was accompanied and enforced by neither declamation, fire, nor 
appropriate action. Nor did the Doctor, when speaking in pub- 
lic, feel himself competent to a bold and exciting manifestation of 
either — more especially of action, which Demosthenes proclaimed 
the first, second, and third most essential elements of oratory. 
And, though the sentiment of the Grecian orator was extravagant, 
and ought not to be inculcated, as a maxim, in the art of speak- 
ing, yet it is in part both true and important. "Without action, 
let a public address, designed to excite to action be, in matter, 
language, and argument, of an order as high and excellent as 



113 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

talents, learning, and practice can make it, its effect will be feeble, 
perhaps a nullity. Nor, according to this well-known principle 
of human nature, is it possible for it to be otherwise. Of this 
truth Dr. Eush was speedily and thoroughly convinced. 

Ilis very sensible and argumentative, but conversational ad- 
dress being finished, and having failed to produce the much 

desired and important result, a call was made for a Mr. W , 

a counsellor-at-law, of talents and learning, and a popular speaker, 
who had often, with great success, addressed juries of various 
descriptions, and in different sorts of cases, and who was abund- 
antly familiar with the leading springs of human action. 

Immediately on the summons, the orator appeared, with a 
flushed countenance, a flashing eye, and a throbbing pulse, and 
commenced his harangue — for it was a harangue, and bore no 
resemblance to a premeditated speech. It did not occupy more 
than eight or ten minutes, was accompanied by no small amount 
of strong, varied, and significant action, and contained nothing 
even akin to reason or argument. It consisted of short sentences 
addressed exclusively to manly or rather daring and high-toned 
feelings and passions, forcibly expressed, in language so fiery as 
almost to threaten with blisters the lips of the speaker. Every 
portion of the address, moreover, was densely interlarded with 
certain current and exciting words and phrases of the day, some 
of them loved and admired, and others hated and scorned by 
Whigs and patriots, and often dextrously employed by public 
declaimers to fire the spirits, and rouse to action the war-passions 
of the populace. I need hardly say, that among such terms and 
expressions were the following: "Freedom, Glory, and Inde- 
pendence !" " Slavery, ignominy, suffering, and chains !" " To 
emulate the heroes of Lexington, Bunker's Hill, and Saratoga !" 
" To avenge the massacres of the tomahawk and the scalping- 
knife on its worse than savage authors, the British emissaries ! 
To protect our wives and our children, our hearths and our 
altars, from the insult and rapacity of the ruffians of Britain, and 
hireling marauders ! To merit, in the strife of the battle-field, the 
approbation of "Washington and his heroic associates !" " Victory 
or death !" " Washington will applaud your bravery or condemn 
your cowardice in the field of battle, and the spirits of Warren, 
Montgomery, and Mercer, will herald them with joy or indignant 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 119 

sorrow in their abodes of bliss!" "A free and independent coun- 
try or a glorious grave I" " Washington, Hancock, and Adams 
forever I !" 

" By a harangue of this description," said Dr. Rush, " Mr. "W. 
was so successful in the work of soldier-making, that he left 
scarcely a man under fifty years of age on the peace side of the 
State-house avenue ; and even I myself felt half inclined to pass 
the Rubicon, and exchange my pill-box and lancet for a cartridge- 
box and musket. But," added the doctor, in his terse and sig- 
nificant manner, " I learned that day what I ought to have known 
before, that I am not calculated for an extempore speaker. And I 
mean to profit by the lesson; I have never since repeated the 
effort; nor is it my present purpose to do so hereafter." 

The introductory lecture by Dr. Rush was a performance of a 
high order. In matter it was instructive, in style and manner 
interesting and attractive; it was elegantly recited, or rather read, 
and its general tone, and the adroitly Americanized spirit of it 
were judiciously fitted to give it favor and popularity with an 
American audience. In a virtual but not very direct comparison 
of the American with the European people, the entire equality, 
not to say the actual, though half-concealed superiority, which, in 
several respects, the professor assigned to the former, -was to me 
a circumstance peculiarly gratifying. The passage in the lecture 
which contained the sentiment, being pronounced with well-timed 
and strongly-marked animation and emphasis, drew from the whole 
audience a burst of applause, and actually thrilled through me 
with an influence and emotion, which half raised me from my 
seat, aud attracted the attention of those who were in my imme- 
diate vicinity. 

One reason why I felt so keenly the sentiment of the professor, 
and derived from it such uncommon gratification was, because it 
came from so distinguished a personage, and was in all respects 
so precisely in harmony with my own. It was, therefore, in no 
ordinary degree, flattering to my pride. Another reason was, 
that it brought suddenly and vividly to my recollection some of 
the most exciting scenes of my boyhood, in which I had strenu- 
ously and suecessfulby contended, by various experiments, deemed 
conclusive, in favor of the truth of the opinion in question ; to 
prove, I mean, the equality at least (in my own belief the natural 



120 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

superiority), of the man of America, or rather of the United 
States, to the man of Europe. 

No sooner had Dr. Rush closed the public exercise of the day 
(only one introductory was delivered each day, during the first 
week of the school session), and I returned to my study, than with 
a mind filled and delighted with what I had heard, I prepared a 
brief and hasty, but sufficiently spirited and confident notice, in 
form of a review of the entire lecture, but especially of that por- 
tion of it which favored the doctrine of American superiority, in 
its relation to the fancied claim to the opposite effect preferred by 
Great Britain and other European nations. After adducing several 
arguments in support of the doctrine maintained in it, I closed 
my notice with an animated and lofty commendation of the per- 
formance in all its leading attributes, specifying in particular its 
sound, appropriate, and instructive matter, its polished and classi- 
cal style of composition, and its eloquent delivery ; and, on the 
following morning, the article signed "A Medical Student," ap- 
peared in the Aurora, a popular newspaper, edited by B. F. Bache, 
a grandson of Dr. Franklin. Nor did it fail to excite in the class 
considerable attention and curiosity, accompanied by open inquiry, 
and whispered suspicion, respecting its authorship. 

Several of the pupils, who, for reasons not then known to me, 
were not altogether friendly to Dr. Bush, pronounced the critique 
ironical, declaring that no one competent to the production of so 
able and tasteful an article, would pass, except in irony, so extra- 
vagant and unmerited a panegyric on so faulty a lecture. In op- 
position to remarks of this description, which were evidently 
tinctured with unfriendliness of feeling, others declared the lec- 
ture to be excellent, and the criticism judicious and sound, except 
that, on a few points, it might, with propriety, have been even 
more eulogistic. 

In this discussion, which became, in a few minutes, quite gene- 
ral, and waxed in a few more sufficiently warm, I took actually 
no part, and apparently but little interest. The latter condition 
of things, however, was only apparent; for, though my lips were 
closed, my eyes and ears were abundantly open, and sensitive to 
all that was passing around me. 

This discussion was, however, brought to a close by the entrance 
of Dr. Kuhn, Professor of the Theory and Practice of Physic, 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 121 

who entered, in all his unbending stateliness and formality, pre- 
pared to deliver his introductory discourse. Nor, whether he was 
regarded mentally or corporeally, in his person, movement, man- 
ners, dress, or address, or in the conceptions, habits, and general 
action and condition of his mind, can any being, in the figure of 
man, more rigidly, stately, and formal than he was, present itself 
to the most inventive and fertile imagination. He was, by far, 
the most highly and minutely furnished specimen of old-school 
medical production I have ever beheld. 

To begin with some of the most valuable characteristics of the 
members of that school. His preliminary education, preparatory 
to the study of medicine, was sufficiently extensive, well-directed, 
and sound. In other words, he was a scholar ; had a respectable 
acquaintance with the several branches of natural science most 
nearly allied to medicine, and did not, as is too much the fashion 
in these latter times of reputed equality among men, commence 
his professional studies with his mind deplorably crude, unin- 
formed, and undisciplined. 

His medical education was also conducted on an extensive plan. 
It was begun in Philadelphia, when Pennsylvania was but a 
British province, and carried as far as the professional means and 
resources of the place, at that early period of the colony, admit- 
ted. But no medical school existing, and, of course, no degree 
in medicine being at that time attainable on this side of the At- 
lantic, Dr. Kuhn's professional education was subsequently prose- 
cuted and finished in the schools of Europe, under the most able 
and distinguished teachers of the day. Among those were the 
celebrated Linnasus, as well in the capacity of a private as a pub- 
lic teacher, the elder Monroe, and the no less celebrated Dr. Cul- 
len. The entire term of Dr. Kuhn's pupilage was not, I think, 
less than from six to seven years. Such were some of that gen- 
tleman's old-school advantages. Among his less valuable attri- 
butes, derived from the same source, may be mentioned the 
following: — 

His hair, unusually coarse and strong, of which nature had 
furnished him with an exuberant abundance, and given to it so 
firm and permanent a setting, that, at the age of seventy-five, he 
possessed, perhaps, as much of it as he did at that of twenty-five ; 
that appendage of the head his hair-dresser so arranged as to give 



122 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

it the resemblance of a fashionable wig, well pomatumed, stifly 
curled, and richly powdered. His hand and bosom-ruffles were 
full and flowing, his breeches were black, his long-skirted waist- 
coat white or buff, and his coat snuff-colored. In his hand he 
carried a gold-headed cane, in his waistcoat pocket a gold snuff- 
box, and his knee and shoe-buckles were of the same metal. 
When moving from house to house, in his professional business, 
so sternly and stubbornly regular were his steps, in both extent 
and repetition, that he could scarcely be induced to quicken or 
lengthen them, either to escape from a thunder-gust or a hail- 
storm, to relieve colic, to arrest a hemorrhage, or scarcely to save 
the life of the most meritorious of his patients. 

Though some of those qualities, taken separately and in the 
abstract, must be considered as, in various respects, troublesome 
and exceptionable, yet were they, in their united influence, useful 
to their possessor. 

They rendered the entire economy of his life a specimen of 
unsurpassed regularity and order. During nearly half a century 
he went to bed at precisely eleven o'clock P. M., and rose at pre- 
cisely half-past five A. M. In summer, he breakfasted at pre- 
cisely seven o'clock, in spring and autumn at half-past seven, and 
in winter, with equal precision, at eight. In summer, he made 
his first morning professional visit at half-past eight o'clock, in 
winter at nine, and in spring and autumn at the moment midway 
between the two. Throughout the year he made his last profes- 
sional morning visit and entered the door of his dwelling exactly 
ten minutes before two P. M., and returned home from his last 
evening visit at ten minutes before seven. 

In his attendance on his patients he was equally regular and 
equally precise. He entered each sick-room at a given time, 
spent a given number of minutes in examining and prescribing, 
and never suffered the slightest deviation to be made from his 
directions. Weak sage tea was a favorite beverage, which he 
often prescribed as a drink for the sick. If, as was sometimes 
the case, the kind nurse or attendant took the liberty of saying to 
him, as he was moving toward the door, to make his exit from 
the room: "Doctor, should the patient want to drink a little 
toast- water, or lemonade, I suppose I may give it to him '/" he 
would turn and reply, with oracular solemnity and decisiveness: 



123 

" I have directed, or I have said, weak sage tea. Good morning, 
Madam." And, however stern and forbidding this decisiveness 
might occasionally appear, it was characterized by sound judg- 
ment and the dictate of experience. For it is a practical, and, 
therefore, a momentous truth, that the nurses of the sick do much 
more mischief by the abuse of their discretionary powers than 
could possibly result from their confinement to the most positive 
directions. Hence, to prevent mischief from that quarter, the 
practitioner should be exceedingly limited in his allowance of 
such powers. 

In cases of consultation with other practitioners, Dr. Kuhn was 
punctual to a minute, in his arrival at the place of meeting; and, 
if in five minutes the other physicians did not also arrive, he uni- 
formly left the room, and would on no account turn back with 
them, should he even meet them within a few feet of the door. 
Did they request him to return with them to the sick-room, or to 
converse with them on the spot, respecting the case he had just 
seen, he promptly and peremptorily refused to do either, assigning 
as his reason, that he had another engagement, within a certain 
number of minutes, and that he could not allow their want of 
punctuality toward him, to render him unpunctual in his inter- 
course with others. The effect of this exactness, was to render 
breaches of engagement with him much less frequent than with 
other physicians. Nor was this its only beneficial result. 

Further conveniences and advantages derived, by Dr. Kuhn, 
from his punctuality and system, were, that he held and exercised 
an absolute command of his business, and never suffered it to 
take command of him ; that he was therefore never compelled by 
it either to break an engagement or to be in a violent hurry to 
keep one; that, during certain parts of every day, he was at 
leisure, and might, for a time, exercise either his mind or his body, 
or both of them, in the way most agreeable to him ; and that thus, 
monotonous as his course of life was, generally considered, it was 
in fact more diversified in some respects than that of most other 
physicians. But to dismiss the consideration of the private 
practitioner of medicine, and speak exclusively of the public 
teacher. 

According to expectation, and in conformity to his habit, just 
as the city clock gave her first stroke of twelve, Dr. Kuhn entered 



124: AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

the lecture room, where the class was in waiting, and ascended 
the platform, from which he was to speak ; and, as soon as the last 
stroke of the clock had ceased to reverberate in our ears, he 
commenced his Introductory. And though its matter was neither 
inappropriate nor uninstructive, its style, manner, and delivery 
were mere commonplace. So far was the address, moreover, 
from containing an original thought, that no portion of it ap- 
peared to be even the professor's own. From beginning to end, 
it was in substance but a transcript from the writings of Cullen. 
It was therefore no unsuitable preface to the Doctor's course of 
lectures, all of which were strikingly characterized by the doc- 
trines and notions of Cullen, and not a few of them actual copies 
of his lectures. 

I need hardly add, that so open a copyist could not long retain 
his station as a public teacher, in a school which had already 
attracted no small share of the attention of the community; and 
while some of his colleagues, as well perhaps as other physicians, 
who did not hold professorships, but aspired to them, were de- 
cidedly hostile to him, and anxious for his removal. Accordingly, 
not more I think than two or three years after the fearful visita- 
tion of Philadelphia, in 1793, by yellow fever, from which Dr. 
Kuhn took shelter in the country, he resigned his professorship, 
and became from that period an ex-professor, and a private 
practitioner. His retirement, however, from the school did not 
deprive him of much if any of his very extensive and lucrative 
business. He was the physician of the wealthy citizens, who 
had also taken refuge in the country from yellow fever. Hence 
they withdrew from him, on account of his having imitated and 
accompanied them, none of their patronage. It is due to his 
memory, moreover, to say, that, though a very ordinary and 
uninteresting lecturer, he was an uncommonly skilful and suc- 
cessful practitioner. 

Of these latter qualifications I attained an intimate knowledge; 
because I had occasion to experience them in my own person. 
From a combination of circumstances which need not be men- 
tioned, I was once attended by him, in a severe but brief attack 
of bilious fever. And, as I then believed, and still believe, the 
judgment and skill which he manifested in the treatment of my 
case, could not have been surpassed. Nor were the salutary 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 125 

effects of his prescriptions the only things in his professional in- 
tercourse with me that attracted my attention, and excited in me 
an interest toward him. Not only was I gratified by the strict- 
ness and uniformity of his attention in every particular, but, 
serious as was my complaint, and severe my sufferings, I was not 
a little amused by the singular punctuality of his visits, and bis 
unvarying self-consistency and precision in all other respects. 
During a portion of my sickness, he visited me three times a 
day. And, by my watch, which hung near the head of my bed, 
I could predict, within less than a minute, the exact time at which 
he would gently tap at my chamber door. 

On the resignation of Doctor Kuhn, Dr. Eush was elected to 
the vacant chair, being also allowed to retain that which he had 
previously held. Hence the reason of the multifarious and self- 
conflicting nature of his professorship, from that period to the 
close of his life — embracing, as it did, the theory and practice of 
physic, the institutes of medicine, and clinical practice. I have 
called the professorship "self-conflicting;" whereas, I had better, 
perhaps, have used one or the other of the terms selfmisrej>resent- 
ing, or self-misinterpreting. "Why ? Because the theory of physic 
and the institutes of medicine, though not strictly, are virtually 
synonymous forms of expression ; while the title of the profes- 
sorship, from the manner in which they are used in it, expressly 
represents them as of different interpretations. Nor would it be 
easy to show my statement to be erroneous, were I to say the 
same of the practice of physic and clinical practice. They are 
phrases which but express different modes of the same sort of 
instruction. To teach medicine practically is their common object. 
These views were among the reasons why I labored for many 
years, by articles from the press, private argument, and public 
addresses, to have that professorship divided into two — one of 
them embracing the Institutes of medicine alone — and the other, 
the practice of physic as usually taught, connected with a bi-weekly 
hospital clinique. Another reason of my attempt was, that the 
professorship was far too multifarious and extensive in its duties. 
Few men are qualified by taste, turn of mind, ability, and educa- 
tion, to perform all those duties. And no man either now does, 
or ever did exist, competent to the due performance of them all, 
in a course of lectures lasting but four months, six lectures only 



126 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

being delivered each week. Even an effort to such effect I then 
declared preposterous. And now, after the experience of thirty- 
years more, T repeat the declaration with augmented confidence. 

Though the arguments which I urged for the division of the 
chair were never openly met and answered — because they were 
unanswerable — yet, during my residence in Philadelphia, the 
division was not made. For this delinquency in the Board of 
Trustees (for a delinquency it certainly was) there existed, as 
was believed, a reason, which, though powerful and operative, 
was neither liberal nor honorable — but the very reverse. Had 
the division been made, by the sentiment of the whole community 
the professorship of the institutes would have been assigned to 
me. And some of the most popular and influential of the pro- 
fessors were unwilling that I should become a member of the 
Faculty. 

Be the cause of their action or want of action on the subject, 
however, what it might, but a short period had elapsed, after my 
removal to the "West, when the division of the professorship, for 
which I had so long contended, was virtually made. At a 
subsequent period it was formally made ; and the chair of the 
Institutes is now occupied by a gentleman of an active and well- 
informed mind. 

The chair of the Institutes, which I held in the medical school 
of Lexington, was erected by the Board of Trustees expressly 
for me, at my own request, when invited by them to take pre- 
cedence and direction in the organization and establishment of 
that institution. Nor did ray friends in Philadelphia hesitate 
to allege that that measure, in Transylvania University, had an 
influence in the introduction of a similar chair into the Uni- 
versity of Pennsylvania. And I know myself, that the arguments 
in favor of a division of the professorship in question, which I 
had, long previously, published in pamplets, and otherwise urged, 
were ultimately used for the accomplishment of the object, in 
whose behalf they had been employed by myself. True, to the 
common sense of every one, who candidly examined the question 
and had the capacity to comprehend it, they were plain and 
satisfactory. Yet did they not, while I remained in Philadelphia, 
produce the result for which they were calculated and intended ; 
though they were made as clear then, and as skilfully and forcibly 



127 

pressed, as they were or could be at any subsequent time. And, 
as already intimated, the reason appeared to be twofold. While I 
remained in Philadelphia, it was known that I would immediately 
avail myself, with almost certain success, of the division of the 
chair, an issue which a few men of standing, who had an iuterest 
in the matter, were anxious to prevent. But no sooner was a 
course of lectures on the philosophy of medicine opened in the 
school of the West, than it was deemed expedient that an effort 
to teach on the same subject should be made in the principal 
school of the East. And, as far as I am informed in the case, all 
that was done was but an effort, a mere pretext without reality, 
a show without substance. The Professor of the Institutes 
lectures, I am told, but twice a week — delivering in all not more 
than thirty lectures. And if that be the case, I have no hesitation 
in saying that it would be more to the credit of both himself and 
the school, that he should not lecture on the subject at all. 
Taught by the experience of more than the fourth of a century, 
I positively assert, that a hundred lectures on the institutes 
of medicine, amount to but a limited and incompetent course. 
For, of all the branches of the profession, that is by far the most 
extensive and diversified. And I need hardly add, that in point 
of elevation and profundity, interest and beauty, it stands pre- 
eminent ; because it is the life and spirit of all the other branches. 
Without it they would be utterly scienceless and lifeless. 

Of the introductories of the other two professors, Hutchison 
and Griffitts, I shall not speak for two reasons. Neither were the 
lectures performances of any peculiar merit; nor did their authors 
attain to any celebrity. Dr. Hutchison died of yellow fever, in 
1793, when comparatively but a young man; and Dr. Grilfitts, 
though an excellent practitioner of medicine, was a very ordinary 
writer, and had neither tact nor talent to read, recite, or speak 
extempore, in a public capacity. Like Dr. Kuhn, he was a living 
and striking proof that, without being in the slightest degree 
fitted for a public teacher of medicine, a physician may be a 
successful practitioner of it. And of the entire medical com- 
munity, forty-nine members out of every fifty, and perhaps a 
much larger proportion, exhibit, each one in himself, conclusive 
testimony to the same effect. Yet how widely different from this 
is public opinion ? No sooner do young men receive their de- 



128 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

grees in medicine, than a proportion of them — far from being 
small — feel confident of their competency to the high function of 
public teaching; and, provided a vacant chair in a medical 
school present itself, they are anxious to enter it — not only by 
fair and honorable means — but too often by means unprincipled 
and detestable. And if no vacancy offer, in a school already ex- 
isting, they are ready to conspire with a few other M. D.s, as 
mature in mind as themselves, and as well provided in learning, 
science, and other qualifications, to create one. 

Respecting another gentleman connected with the Philadelphia 
Faculty, in 1792, 1 deem it due to him to make a few remarks ; I 
allude to Dr. Wistar, adjunct Professor of Anatomy, on whose 
literary and professional education neither time, attention, nor 
expense had been spared. He was possessed of wealth, and had 
spent several years in Europe, in the most popular schools, and 
under the most celebrated masters of the time. In point of scho- 
larship — in the common acceptation of the term — he was greatly 
superior to any of the professors. In evidence of this, when, as 
was then at times the case, any candidate for a degree in medicine 
wrote his inaugural Thesis in Latin, or was desirous of being 
examined in that venerable tongue, the pupil and his production 
were handed over to Dr. Wistar, because, of all the members of 
the Faculty, he was best prepared, if not alone prepared, for the 
duties of the occasion. 

When I myself was under examination for my degree, Dr. 
Shippen, who was somewhat inclined to what is termed fun, and 
innocent mischief, having heard me reported as the best linguist 
in the class, and suspecting, perhaps, that I valued myself on that 
school-boy attainment, transferred his duty on the occasion to 
Dr. Wistar, in order, as he good-naturedly and playfully said, that 
he (Dr. Wistar) and myself might talk to each other in Latin, 
like the Younger and Elder Pliny, and afford him an opportu- 
nity of judging which of us was best entitled to be proud of his 
scholarship. And the experiment being immediately made, we 
both gained credit for the manner in which we acquitted ourselves 
For, though taken by surprise, neither of us faltered or manifested 
any mortifying deficiency, but spoke with readiness and no great 
want of accuracy, notwithstanding we had made no preparation 
for the task imposed on us. And we were highly complimented 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 129 

on our scholarship by the venerable professor who had called us 
to the trial. 

Dr. Wistar being, at the time of the commencement of my 
pupilage in the Philadelphia school, comparatively young, was 
one of the most sensitive and quick-tempered of men, and had 
yet acquired but little reputation as a public teacher. Indeed, 
in that respect, his standing was beneath what it ought to have 
been, and what it would certainly have already become, had it 
not been for the misfortune of his extreme sensibility. For, 
through that, he often experienced such embarrassment and con- 
fusion, as detracted very perceptibly, as well from the instructive- 
ness as from other less important, but still interesting and valu- 
able qualities of his lectures. In fact, on many occasions, I have 
seen him so agitated, by the most trifling occurrences, as to be 
scarcely able to proceed in the plainest and most familiar anato- 
mical demonstrations. In one instance, when he was lecturing 
on the digestive apparatus, I saw him so deeply disconcerted 
(nobody but himself knew why), as to misname almost every 
portion of the alimentary tube, and every organ connected with 
it, and to misrepresent their special functions. From some loose 
and wandering fancy that made its way into his mind, he wound 
up that lecture of accidents, by bestowing on the sj)hincter ani a 
misnomer so odd and ludicrous, as to produce, in the class, an 
irresistible and indiscriminate outbreak of laughter — in which the 
Doctor himself had the good sense to unite, and, by that means, 
escape at least a share of the embarrassment he must have other- 
wise experienced. As indicative of the organization and tempera- 
ment of that gentleman, it is worthy of remark that not only were 
his fits of agitation more easily and frequently excited than those of 
any other individual I have ever known, whether male or female ; 
but they had also the appearance of being more dangerous. His 
head was unusually large, his neck short and thick, his chest 
capacious, and his heart corresponding to it in size and power. 
Of that condition of things the effect is obvious. 

In his paroxysms of agitation, mingled, as they often were, with 
a spice of dissatisfaction, not to call it anger, the blood rushed to 
his head in large amount, and with great impetuosity, his face 
flushed to crimson, his eyes not only flashed and even seemed to 
protrude, but he was at times assailed by a threatening vertigo — 
9 



130 AUTOBIOGRAPHY pP 

the more threatening, in consequence of his belonging to an apo- 
plectic family, and possessing himself an apoplectic figure. Though 
in cases of common danger, his spirit was manly, firm, and fear- 
less, yet these considerations awakened in him, necessarily, some 
degree of apprehension, and induced him to avail himself of every 
means he could devise, and every exertion he could make to 
subdue the inordinate sensitiveness of his system. And, in time, 
he succeeded to such an extent, as to render his fits of agitation 
much less frequent, violent, and dangerous, than they were at an 
earlier period of his career. 

Nor was it his health alone that was placed in a better condi- 
tion by this change in his excitability. So far as an ability to 
exercise his talents was concerned, his mind also was greatly im- 
proved. In such a degree, now, did his will hold the mastery 
over his other mental powers, that he could employ them undis- 
turbed, and in their full vigor, on any subject he might select, 
and in any sort of effort he might choose to make. 

Subsequently to this victory over an infirmity of his nature (a 
victory which any one who resolutely attempts it, and steadilv 
perseveres in his attempt, may certainly gain), he became one of 
the most fluent, self-possessed, and instructive lecturers our coun- 
try has produced — not, however, one of the ablest. . 

But, though he professed and publicly taught surgery for many 
years, and was thoroughly versed in that branch of knowledge, he 
never became a distinguished operator. No sooner did he engage 
in an important operation, than the primitive sensibility of his 
system returned, his hand became unsteady, and his mind at 
times perceptibly discomposed. In consequence of this, did any 
unexpected event occur, even an unlooked-for jet of blood from 
an artery, the expedient best calculated to remedy the evil seldom, 
if ever, presented itself to him with promptness — much less with 
coolness on his part. 

I have said that, at the commencement of his career as a public 
teacher, Dr. Wistar did not receive credit for the abilities (I mean 
the native abilities) which he actually possessed. Far otherwise, 
however, was his lot, in the middle, and toward the closing portion 
of that career. 

At those latter periods, his reputation was as far above the true 
standard of his talents, attainments, and manifestations, as it had 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 131 

been previously below them. The public, as if in regret for 
having once underrated him, now overrated him, in an equal 
degree, in order that, by excess in the latter case, they might 
make the requisite atonement for defect in the former. 

As a practitioner of medicine, he never attained an elevated 
rank. To Kuhn, Rush, Physick, and other Philadelphia physicians 
that might be named, he was, in that respect, not a little inferior. 
In his examinations into the symptoms of his patients, he was 
always annoyingly, and, to many of them, often injuriously cir- 
cumstantial, minute, and fatiguing. He would, on some occasions, 
circumambulate the beds of the sick two or three times, eying 
their countenances from every point, feeling their pulses re- 
peatedly, and interrogating them respecting the feelings expe- 
rienced by them in almost every part of their bodies. And he 
ofteu put questions to them, the relevancy of which to the case 
before him I was unable to discover. In another point of view, 
Dr. Wistar's practice exhibited a want of mental clearness, de- 
cision, and strength. His prescriptions were too complicated. 
His recipes, I mean, were compounded of too many different 
ingredients. Medical practice of this sort is the offspring of 
mental obscurity and indecision. To me it clearly testifies that 
the practitioner, at a loss what precise remedy to administer 
to the sick, administers a multifarious one, in the hope that some 
of the ingredients of it may in some way do good. Thus, if but 
a single drop of shot from the fowling-piece, take effect, the bird 
aimed at by the sportsman may fall. The ablest and most suc- 
cessful practitioners of medicine I have ever known, employed 
the simplest remedies, and the fewest of them. And they usually 
also consumed much the shortest time in examining symptoms, 
and deciding on prescriptions. 

Such, however, is not the opinion of every one ; nor even 
perhaps of a majority of those, who deem themselves highly 
qualified to judge. In the estimation of such persons, Dr. 
Wistar's prolonged examinations of his patients, and the com- 
plexity of his prescriptions, enhanced, in no small degree, his 
reputation and standing. The reason is plain. They were 
regarded by them as evidential of his great attention and cau- 
tiousness, sagacity and judgment. By the same individuals, on 
the contrary, physicians who examined and prescribed with 



132 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

promptness and simplicity, were held comparatively regardless 
of the suffering and fate of their patients, and ignorant of the 
special virtues of medicinal substances. Such are and must be 
the blunders of those, who pretend to judge of what they do not 
understand. 

Though I do not pronounce Dr. "Wistar altogether an anomaly 
(for there exist many persons who partially resemble him), yet 
did he possess, in his character, several extraordinary and con- 
tradictory elements. In some respects, his mind was disjointed 
and out of balance, and therefore often incorrect in its movements. 

Although I am confident that in conversation, writing, and 
public address, he never intentionally deviated from the truth ; in 
some of his transactions, he scarcely adhered to it. In his pro- 
fessional and other engagements, he seldom failed to violate his 
promise. And that practice is a perpetration of a species of 
untruth, and I might add of injustice; because it robs of their 
time those toward whom engagements are broken. And, to men 
immersed in business, time is, in many cases, the most valuable 
sort of property. 

The Doctor was certainly the most unpunctual man in relation 
to his professional engagements (I mean on the score of time), I 
ever knew ; and the most ready, pleasant, and plausible in apolo- 
gizing for his delinquency. His failure in punctuality, moreover, 
became in time so inveterate and habitual, as to extinguish in 
some measure, the regret he ought to have felt, and which per- 
haps at first he did feel on account of it. In one instance, how- 
ever, I had an opportunity of making him feel very keenly the 
full amount of the fault he had committed. 

In the autumn of 1811, I had, for some time, a stated consulta- 
tion engagement with him, at nine o'clock every morning. This, 
as usual, he regularly broke, and as regularly apologized for the 
breach, until I entirely ceased to expect punctuality from him. 

During the time of this joint attendance, I was called to visit 
a patient in New Jersey, twenty miles distant from the city of 
Philadelphia. Having finished my morning calls, in the city, I 
mounted my horse about twelve o'clock, visited my remote friend 
in the country, remained with him until two o'clock next morn- 
ing, and then set out on my return to the city. The roads being 
h in some places, and muddy in others, and having lost 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 133 

nearly half an hour of my time by inadvertently mistaking my 
road, I did not reach Philadelphia until within a few minutes of 
nine o'clock, the hour of my engagement to meet Dr. Wistar. In- 
stead of first calling at my own house, therefore, I passed directly 
to the dwelling of my patient, gave my horse to a servant, direct- 
ing him to be held near the door, and entered the house in horse- 
man's costume and condition, booted, spurred, and specked with 
mud. This arrangement was maae by me, partly for the purpose 
of rebuking Dr. Wistar by facts, instead of words, on account of 
his unpuuctuality, should he on this occasion prove unpunctual ; 
an event which I did not consider even doubtful, much less 
improbable. 

At half-past nine, the door-bell rang; and in a moment after- 
ward the Doctor entered the parlor, where I was waiting, some- 
what disconcerted, for he had seen my mud-bespattered horse at 
the door. As soon, moreover, as he entered the parlor, I looked 
at my watch, a significant act, which, for some time previously, I 
had ceased to repeat, on his making his appearance, because I 
had found it to be entirely useless. This renewal of it, however, 
arrested his attention ; and his eye next fell on my muddied boots 
and spurs. 

These several circumstances united so excited him as to pro- 
duce, to some extent, one of his former habitual blushes. Die said, 
however, with a smile, and in a cheerful tone, "You appear, sir, 
as if you had been taking a ride in the country this morning." 

"Yes, sir," was my reply; "I have travelled from Burlington 
this morning." 

"From Burlington in New Jersey?" said he. 

" Yes, sir." 

" Why, that is a distance of twenty miles! is it not?" 

"It is so accounted, sir; and when the road is as sloppy and 
deep as it is at present, the calculation seems rather below the 
reality." 

" Pray, sir, how long have you been here ?" 

"Bather more, sir, than half an hour" (looking again at my 
watch); "I entered this room about two minutes before nine." 

All this I said intentionally in a tone of unusual mildness for 
me, when under the feeling of a recent disappointment ; because 
I felt convinced that the Doctor would feel my virtual rebuke 



134 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

the more keenly, on account of its being administered without 
emotion. And my opinion was correct. He was deeply mortified, 
apologized seriously, and earnestly promised to practise with me, 
in our subsequent meetings, more punctuality. And for a time 
his promise was strictly observed, but not permanently. In him, 
a reform in the fault of engagement-breaking, free from relapse, 
would have been a marvel, because it would have been tantamount 
to a revolution in his nature. 

Yet would such reform have been of great importance to him. 
He was himself by far the severest sufferer from his want of 
punctuality. In consequence of it, his business was always 
ahead of him — had command of him — and dragged him after it; 
instead of his having command of it, compelling it to follow him 
and be subservient to him. 

Daring his business hours, not only was he without a moment 
of actual leisure, he was always in a hurry, or rather a bustle, 
often out of breath and forever out of time. Owing to this 
annoying confusion, which clung to him, as a portion of his 
nature, his professional books were said to have been very irre- 
gularly kept by him. By that irregularity, however, no one but 
himself was ever suspected to have suffered. It was said and 
believed that he never presented an exorbitant bill. On the 
contrary, all his bills were uncommonly moderate, and some of 
them singularly and ludicrously low. The reason was, that he very 
often neglected to make daily entries in his books. And those 
which he failed to make daily, he entirely forgot, and never made 
them at all. 

He belonged by both birth and marriage, to a large and wealthy 
Quaker connection, and was family physician to perhaps every 
member of it. Of each family, moreover, it was the desire that 
his bills should be rendered and settled at least towards the close 
of every year ; and to that effect did they repeatedly solicit him, 
but in vain. No account could he be induced to present to any 
of his connections, without difficulty ; and against the females of 
the connection (although very wealthy), he never made either 
charges or entries. Nor, from the latter would he accept money, 
however frequently and earnestly it might be proffered to him. 
The only expedient, therefore, to which those just and high- 
minded women could have recourse was, to send to him occasion- 



M. D. 135 

ally presents of plate, sets of dinner, supper, and breakfast china, 
valuable books, marble busts, choice paintings, and such other 
articles of use or ornament, as they might deem suitable. But it 
was requisite that they should strictly conceal from him the 
quarter from which the presents came. In default of that expe- 
dient, the articles would have been returned. 

But, with all these oddities and deficiencies on his head, Dr. 
"Wistar was singularly beloved and respected. In social, profes- 
sional, and scientific life, his standing, in the estimation of the 
community, was elevated if not pre-eminent. As already men- 
tioned, his practice as a physician and surgeon was extensive; 
and had he not neglected his accounts, would have been highly 
lucrative. But his hereditary wealth, and his income, as professor, 
supplied him with means more than sufficient for all his purposes 
whether of comfort or convenience, luxury, elegance, or ambition; 
and he had no propensity to accumulate and hoard. Having 
been, for many years, senior Vice-President of the American 
Philosophical Society, he was at length promoted to the Presidency 
of it, and thus seated in the same chair that had been occupied 
by Franklin, Rittenhouse, and Jefferson. He was, moreover, as 
far as I am informed, the first person in Philadelphia who held 
regular soirees, or evening conversation parties, of a literary and 
scientific character. And, for several years after his death, those 
meetings continued to be held by his friends, in commemoration 
of him, in their original style, under the name of " Wistar Parties." 
Nor do I know that they do not still survive. But, if so, it is in 
a degenerate condition. Twelve or fifteen years ago (perhaps 
more), they had ceased to have in them even a spice of the true 
ccena atlica. They had been metamorphosed into fashionable 
and sumptuous eating and drinking parties. They were gay and 
mirthful, and therefore, to those whose chief delight is in hilarity 
and pleasantry, sufficiently attractive. But their dignity had 
departed, their literary conversation had become commonplace 
chat, they were shorn of their last ray of science, and might be 
called, in the least exceptionable meaning of the phrase, scenes of 
sensuality. They were now held also most frequently at the 
houses of men who had no claim to anything higher than gentility 
and fashion. Their mere name was the only one of their primi- 
tive attributes which they still retained. 



136 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

When Dr. Wistar first commenced those parties, they were 
comparatively small. More than ten or twelve gentlemen rarely 
appeared in them; and they were principally strangers of name 
and standing, mixed with a few of the Doctor's most intimate and 
extensively informed associates, who were themselves instructive 
and accomplished in conversation, and pleased with corresponding 
powers in others. The association thus constituted, was identical, 
in design and character, with the conversazioni so customary in 
Europe. 

In those intellectual and delightful little parties (for they were 
strongly characterized by both qualities), Dr. Wistar adroitly con- 
trived to be himself much more of a listener than of a talker. 
Yet were his conversational powers of a high order. His practice 
in his parties was to open a conversation on some interesting 
topic, by making in person a few remarks or inquiries respecting 
it, in order to render it a theme of discussion by others of the 
party, whom he knew to be well-informed in relation to it, and 
prepared to shed light on it. And, other things being equal, the 
newer and less known it was to himself, the more apt was he to 
introduce it as a theme, and the better pleased to hear it ably 
handled ; because, from such a source, he derived more fresh and 
novel information, and added more to his stock of knowledge, 
than he could do, by listening to conversation on a subject 
already familiar to him. And, as the amount of his professional 
business, and the irregularity with which it was conducted, pre- 
vented him from reading and investigating to any great extent, 
or very valuable effect himself, one of his leading objects, in the 
institution of his soirees was, to profit, as far as possible, by the 
result of the reading and investigations of others. Nor did he 
hesitate to acknowledge that such was the fact, and often to thank 
members of his party, when about to take leave of him, for the 
pleasure and instruction he had received from their conversation. 
Nor is there any reason to believe that the compliment he thus 
paid them was untrue or insincere. It was not, I mean, the 
language of mere commonplace politeness. For, it is an incon- 
trovertible truth, that, from well-digested and matured conversa- 
tion, or public address, a greater amount of correct and substantial 
knowledge may be drawn, in a few hours, than can be in as many 
days, or perhaps weeks of interrupted and irregular readings. 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 137 

I have said that Dr. Wistar was but an ordinary writer. In 
proof of this, on the death of his friend, benefactor, and patron, 
Dr. Shippen, he delivered by appointment, on the life and charac- 
ter of that distinguished teacher, a public discourse, intended for 
the press. I say that it was intended for the press; not because 
its author told me so, but because such was the universal expec- 
tation and belief; and such also is the uniform destination of 
discourses of the sort, when pronounced by such a man as Dr. 
Wistar, on such a man as Dr. Shippen. A single exception to 
this I do not now remember — save in the fate of the rejected 
address in question* To the press that production never found 
its way. 

Dr. Wistar died, if my memory fail me not, of a disease of the 
heart. Some of the valves of that organ, I think, were ossified. 
The funeral honors conferred on him were as impressive as they 
could be rendered by sincere and extensive sorrow, deep solem- 
nity, and the slow and silent movement of an immense procession 
of his fellow-citizens, that followed him to the grave. 

He was subsequently commemorated by two public discourses, 
under the auspices of two scientific institutions to which he be- 
longed. One of those was the American Philosophical Society, 
of which he was President at the time of his death. Under the 
direction of that body, his commemorator was very appropriately 
the Honorable William Tilghinan, Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, 
who was subsequently elected to succeed him in the presidency 
of the institution. 

The other public body, by which he was commemorated, was 
the Philadelphia Medical Society, by whose action the office of 
commemorator was devolved on myself. The two discourses 
were published, and somewhat extensively noticed and reviewed. 
And, as is always and perhaps necessarily the case, the reviewers 
differed in decision respecting their merits, some giving a prefer- 
ence to one and some to the other, according as they were influ- 
enced, mostly, I am willing to believe, by their taste and judg- 
ment, but also in part, as I am persuaded, by their feelings of 
friendliness or unfriendliness toward their authors. On two topics, 

* It would appear that the discourse delivered by Dr. Wistar on the life and cha- 
racter of Dr. Shippen, uas subsequently published, about the year ISIS — although 
Dr. Caldwell was not aware of the fact. — Ed. 



138 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

however, public opinion was unanimous; that, as related to matter, 
Judge Tilghman bad produced the fullest and best biographical 
memoir; and that, in style and manner, mine was the best com- 
posed and most respectable eulogy. And the reason of these two 
points of reciprocal superiority were obvious, and may be briefly 
stated. 

I, though far the younger man, was, in an equal degree, the 
most practised writer. I had, therefore, the acquired skill of ex- 
pressing myself on paper as a disciplined artist. For composi- 
tion is as genuine an art as painting or sculpture. I had also 
probably derived from nature a more liberal supply of imagina- 
tion and fancy, and had certainly employed and cultivated them 
to a greater extent than the honorable Judge, and thus, perhaps, 
somewhat surpassed him in the literary, and more refined and 
attractive qualities of composition and thought. The reason why 
he had the ascendency in the matter of his discourse, was as fol- 
lows; and the reader will judge for himself whether, on such an 
occasion, it was either liberal or manly, or on any ground justifi- 
able. 

Mrs. B., a near kinswoman of Dr. Wistar, then resident in 
Princeton, New Jersey, was known to have in her possession, a 
number of interesting and valuable documents, containing an 
account of the early education of that gentleman, as well as of his 
course and engagements at a later period. As soon, therefore, as" 
I had received the appointment to prepare and deliver on his life 
and character a commemorative discourse, I addressed a letter to 
that lady, soliciting of her the privilege of examining those docu- 
ments, and selecting from them such matter as might be suitable 
to my purpose. To that solicitation she cordially assented ; and 
an early day was specified, on which my visit to Princeton was to 
be made, and the documents inspected. But, before that clay 
(early as it was) had shed abroad its morning light, a messenger 
in behalf of Judge Tilghman (but whether by his immediate 
agency, or by that of some of his friends and partisans, I never 
knew) arrived, post-haste, at Princeton, got possession of Mrs. 
B.'s memoranda of her kinsman, and conveyed them to Philadel- 
phia, where, as I then thought and still think, I was very illibe 
rally and unjustifiably (not to employ terms of deeper reprehen- 
sion) prevented from inspecting them. In the course of my 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 139 

address, I alluded to the stratagem as the cause of my deficiency in 
biographical matter. And, though my language was milder than 
the occasion would have warrauted, it stung so severely the indi- 
viduals who had been, or were suspected to have been, most im- 
mediately concerned in the transaction, that they never forgave me. 
Had I received from Mrs. B. the memoranda of the life of her 
kinsman, the Honorable Judge Tilghman should certainly have 
seen them. The competition between him and myself would 
have been thus rendered a fair one. Had he then surpassed me, 
I would have congratulated him on his triumph, and united in 
his applause. But though we still remained on terms of courtesy, 
he forfeited by the measure much of the respect toward him 
which I had previously entertained. Most assuredly, if he did not 
deport himself ungenerously towards me in person, he availed 
himself of the co-operation and aid of those who conducted the 
intrigue, and to whose movements he was privy. The maxim of 
his own profession, therefore, Quod fecit per alium fecit per se, was 
directly applicable to him. But, to return once more to the tenor 
of my own story. 



140 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



CHAPTER IV. 

Lectures — Mode of attending tliem — Notes — Critics— No parties — Mrs. Rush— A 

party at her house — Rush's lectures — Analogy — Unity of fever — Dr. G tts — 

His manners — Dr. Barton — His appearance— Courtesy — Character — Henry Moss 
— Dr. Woodhouse — His skill in chemistry. 

The first week of the session of the medical school having 
closed, and the introductories being finished, I am now to be 
considered in close and ardent attendance on the didactic lectures, 
determined to profit by them to the utmost extent. The more 
certainly to succeed in this general and leading determination, I 
am under the adoption and influence of several subordinate and 
auxiliary ones, the following of which were found, on trial, to be 
highly advantageous to me: — 

• To attend the lectures so regularly and punctually, as never, 
when in health, to be absent from one of them ; never to be out 
of time in reaching the lecture-room, or to lose a single act or 
thought expressed by the teacher; to take notes on the topics 
deemed most important ; never, during the delivery of a lecture, 
to allow my mind to be engrossed or diverted by anything foreign 
from the subject and matter of it; always to occupy, as far as 
practicable, the same seat in the lecture-room ; and never to lay 
my head on my pillow, until satisfied on two points — that I had 
added somewhat, during the day, to my stock of knowledge, and 
had made the best estimate I could of the character, amount, and 
usefulness of the addition. Nor, arduous to sluggards and idlers 
as this self-imposed task may appear, did I experience any real 
difficulty in its accomplishment. On the contrary, resolution, in- 
dustry, and perseverance not only, in a short time, made it easy 
and pleasant ; they furnished me with ample leisure for other 
collateral and advantageous pursuits. During certain stated 
hours, I read with attention many favorite works, in verse as 
well as prose, wrote letters to the South, and critical paragraphs 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 141 

for newspapers, and held with the muses such dalliance and sport, 
as to perpetrate, and publish in the periodicals of the day, not a 
few scraps of rhyme, at least, if not of poetry. In truth, I became 
at that period of my life more fully convinced than I had ever 
been before, that, except from some unforeseen and unforeseeable 
preventive, a man of sound health and respectable mind will 
rarely if ever fail to surpass, in no small degree in performance, 
his own most sanguine calculations — provided he draw to a suffi- 
cient extent on determined energy and untiring industry. And 
if he decline to do this, he will seldom succeed to his satisfaction 
in any enterprise of either usefulness or repute. But let me not 
fail to add that, to accomplish with certainty my projected 
scheme of study and improvement, I was compelled to be a strict 
and unswerving economist of time. While too many of my 
fellow-students were walking the streets, or amusing themselves 
in cheerful company, I was alone in my study; and, during many 
hours of the night, while they were asleep, I was engaged in some 
sort of mental occupation. In a word, I was industrious, and they 
were idle. And I need hardly say, that morally no less than in- 
tellectually and physically, these two conditions are the antipodes 
of each other. The former is the fulfilment, the other the culpa- 
ble neglect of duty. And no less opposite are tbey in their effects. 
So true is this remark respecting my industry, that, during the 
first three years of my residence in Philadelphia, I never, though 
often invited and even importuned, spent an hour in parties of 
mere social enjoyment, nor passed an evening out of my study, 
except for the purpose of attending medical, scientific, or literary 
societies, or of mingling and conversing with individuals, by whom 
I expected to be improved in knowledge. And during the whole 
of that period, though always respectful and affable to my class- 
mates, I was not actually familiar with one of them. My only 
intercourse with them was in the lecture-rooms, the medical so- 
cieties, of which there were then two (the American Medical, and 
the Philadelphia Medical) in the Pennsylvania Hospital, and in 
the streets. I never visited any of them in their lodging-rooms, 
nor did any of them, except on business, visit me in mine. And, 
that I might be as much alone as I might choose to be, I refused 
to be associated with any one, as a fellow-lodger, paying a mode- 
rate premium for the exclusiveness of solitude. For, to have the 



142 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

requisite command of my time, and be completely master of my- 
self, I knew it was essential that I should be companionless in my 
study. In one particular, only, did I apprehend, from the mem- 
bers of the class, any difficulty in maintaining the entire regu- 
larity of the course I had determined to pursue. And that was 
my claim on the same seat, especially in Dr. Rush's lecture-room, 
which I had selected, on the occasion of his Introductory, and 
was solicitous to retain. Not only was it one of the most conve- 
nient seats in the room; it was also one of the most conspicuous. 
And there existed reasons (no matter what some of them were) 
why I was not unwilling to be seen and observed, particularly 
by the professor himself, whose acquaintance it was my earnest 
desire to form. But my wish and determination were, that the 
overture to that effect should come from him. For I was known 
to no one in Philadelphia by whom I could condescend to be in- 
troduced to him. And both pride and cautiousness forbade me 
to introduce myself, lest my advance might be received with 
coldness — an event, which, constituted and situated as I was, 
would have forever estranged me from any further personal in- 
tercourse with him. 

Time passed on, however, and nothing to discourage or dis- 
satisfy me occurred. My seat, as I made on entering the room 
no hurried movement or perceptible effort of any description to 
seize it, but merely looked and calmly stepped toward it, as if it 
were my own, was uniformly and courteously resigned to me, 
until my claim to it seemed recognized as a personal right. So 
far toward me was that kind and accommodating observance ex- 
tended, that I never experienced the slightest difficulty in retain- 
ing my position. 

My several articles on Dr. Eush's lectures, I had written in the 
retirement of my study, and, under the cover of night, deposited 
myself each of the manuscripts in either the post-office or the 
letter-box of some newspaper. Nor had I whispered to any one 
the secret of my having composed them. I felt, therefore, an 
oft-recurring impulse of curiosity (not, I think, altogether un- 
natural) to know the cause, why the authorship of them was so 
universally ascribed to me ? Hence, on one occasion, when several 
of the young men, assembled around me, spoke openly of the 
articles, as my criticism ; I asked them, with an exhibition of 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 143 

surprise in my manner (not altogether unreal), why it was that 
they so confidently imputed the authorship of them to me? 

At this question they at first only laughed, but on my repeat- 
ing it with some degree of earnestness, one of them, still smiling, 
said to me, " Do you really wish to know why you are believed 
to be the author ?" 

" I do." 

" Then I will tell you. When a newspaper containing one of 
your critiques (pray excuse me, sir, one of those believed to be 
yours) is handed to you, or laid on your desk, you never read it, 
but just look at it, and hand the paper to somebody else. And 
that neglect to read tells us plainly enough, that you know 
already what the critique contains." 

" As to my not reading the articles, in the lecture-room," I re- 
plied, "that is a circumstance from which for the plainest reason 
your inference cannot be legitimately drawn. I resort to that 
place, not to read newspapers, but for other and to me more 
profitable and agreeable employments. If I bestow my time and 
attention on newspapers at all, I do so, when no higher and more 
important occupation has a claim on them. Your reason, there- 
fore, for ascribing to me the authorship of those notices is 
altogether invalid. You may make of it a ground of suspicion, if 
you please, but all your ingenuity can never manufacture it into 
matter of proof." 

" Well, well," said he, good-hurnoredly, " you may talk about 
the critiques, as seriously and logically as you may think proper; 
but I am sure that you are the author of them ; and you will not 
look me gravely in the face, and deny it." 

" That," said I to my antagonist, fixing my eyes steadily but 
good-hurnoredly on his, "that is, I suppose, what in your logic 
you call a, clincher. For the present, therefore, I am disinclined 
to reply to it." 

At that moment Dr. Rush, whose arrival we had been expect- 
ing, for the last three or four minutes, entered the room, and 
ascended the platform, from which he lectured. 

The Doctor was in the habit then, as most public teachers are 
now, of examining his pupils daily on the matter he had submitted 
to them on the preceding day. But, as a general rule, the exami- 
nees were those only who were in attendance on their second or 



14-4 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

third course of lectures. From this rule deviations were never 
made by him, except at the request of the pupils themselves. 
On that morning, however, the Doctor deviated on the other 
side, and asked me, whether I was willing to+>e examined during 
my attendance on a first course of lectures? My reply was, 
" Perfectly willing, sir, provided you examine only on what you 
have first told me." 

"That condition shall be observed, sir," was his rejoinder. 

And he immediately proposed to me several questions, all but 
one of them drawn from his lectures, traced back to near the 
beginning of his course. The questions derived from his lectures 
I promptly answered. But when he propounded to me the 
question not thus derived, I replied, after a moment's reflection, 
" I can answer that, sir, in my own way, but not perhaps in 
yours ; for you have not yet favored us with your solution of it." 

" True, sir, I have not. Well, let the answer, if agreeable to 
you, be given in your own way." 

" Certainly, sir ;" and to my answer, promptly submitted, he 
said with a slight smile, and in a tone of approval — 

" Very well. I perceive that you remember perfectly what you 
have heard from me, and know what you have not heard." 

To the compliment I returned, in my seat, a slight bow of 
thanks; and having put to other pupils a few questions, his 
lecture was delivered, as I thought, with unusual excellence, and 
corresponding effect. But possibly my own condition of feeling 
(for it was elated and delightful) might have somewhat influenced 
my judgment and taste in so favorable a decision. 

The few incidents of that morning, unimportant as they may 
appear to others, were very far from being unimportant to me. 
On the contrary, I have always looked back to them as the dawn 
of a new and exceedingly interesting era of my life — the era 
of my intimacy with one of the most illustrious physicians of the 
day; and that, though it was subsequently interrupted, and 
ultimately changed to entire estrangement, was notwithstanding, 
during its continuance, in many respects, and in no ordinary 
degree, both gratifying and useful to me. 

Previous to the occurrences just recited, I had been frequently 
told by some of the pupils who had some intercourse with him, 
that Dr. Eush was highly pleased with the critiques on his 



145 

lectures, and regarded me as their author. To those tales, how- 
ever, I paid little regard, because I considered them of doubtful 
authenticity. But soon after the day of which I have been 
speaking, I was induced, by another incident, to believe them 
true. 

One morning, when I was seated in my study, Dr. Eush's eldest 
son called on me and told me that his father and mother would 
be pleased to see me at tea in the evening, and received from mc 
an immediate acceptance of the invitation. For, though I had 
inflexibly determined not to waste my evenings in common tea- 
drinkings, a visit of the kind to the family of Dr. Kush, where, to 
me, the intellectual would be much more gratifying, and also 
much more highly valued by me, than the bodily repast, was a 
treat and a source of improvement not to be neglected. Accord- 
ingly, I was true and punctual to my engagement. 

When, in the evening, I rang his door-bell and sent in my 
name by the waiter, the doctor himself received me in the hall, 
ushered me into the parlor, introduced me, in flattering terms, 
first to Mrs. Rush and his eldest children, and then to his corps 
of private pupils, who, as I afterward learned, had been invited 
to meet me. Had I been opportunely apprised of that part of 
the arrangement it is by no means improbable that I would have 
declined the visit from an apprehension that some of the new 
acquaintances thus and there made known to me might probably 
annoy me by their visits. But, by prudence and firmness, aided 
by a spice of occasional policy, that mischief was prevented. 

As soon as the general introduction was finished, and I again 
approached Mrs. Rush to make another bow, and address to her 
a few more civil words, I discovered, to my surprise, that I had 
been talked about in the family ; and that she knew more of my 
history than I had believed to be known by all the inhabitants of 
Philadelphia. She even spoke of events connected with me 
which I myself had almost forgotten. At length she adverted to 
the fact of my having led the escort of General Washington 
through the State of North Carolina. Her knowledge of that 
adventure so surprised me, that I begged her to inform me 
through what channel she had become possessed of it. "For. 
certainly," said I, "Dr. Rush cannot have informed you of all 
this." 

10 



146 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

"Oh! no," said she; "though the doctor has often spoken of 
yon, he did not tell me that; I learned it from Mr. 1ST — w — n, who 
knew you in Salisbury. He has called here several times since 
the commencement of the lectures, and has told me all about you. 
He appears to be very much your friend ; for he always speaks of 
you in the highest terms. Yet, you and he are so unlike each 
other that I do not see how you could ever have been so intimate." 

" Intimate I" said I, " permit me to assure you, madam, that we 
never have been intimate. And before we can ever become so, 
either he or I, or both of us, must be greatly changed." 

These words were uttered by me with a look and in a tone 
which convinced her that the gentleman was in no very high 
favor with me, and the conversation respecting him was abruptly 
closed. 

During the time of the evening meal, considering myself still 
under the auspices of Mrs. Eush, I gave to her my chief, if not 
my exclusive attention. But that being finished, she having to 
superintend her household concerns, transferred me to the doctor, 
in conversation with whom I passed the remainder of the evening 
— at least that portion of it which I was willing to abstract from 
my regular studies. And a conversation so exciting and attract- 
ive, in manner as well as matter, I rarely, if ever, had previously 
enjoyed. For, as heretofore stated, Dr. Rush's conversational 
powers were of an elevated order. Nor did he either toy with 
them or spare them on the occasion referred to. He tried them 
for a purpose which he rarely neglected, to the very "top of their 
bent." For, from the commencement of the conversation, it was 
evident that he designed to make by it a deep impression on me — 
to gratify, instruct, and perhaps surprise me — and thus attach me 
to himself and his doctrines as a medical follower. And, in part, 
he succeeded. During the whole conversation, I was delighted 
by the ease and elegance of it, and, at times, even surprised by 
coruscations of its brilliancy. The entire scene of the evening, 
moreover, attached me to the highbred gentleman and his hospit- 
able family. But nothing could have enlisted me to the professor 
as one of his retainers. To a condition so lowly and foreign from 
my nature, I could no more have stooped than I could have done 
to that of a groom or a footman. A leading motto with me, was 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 147 

then, had been from the time of my earliest remembrance, is yet, 
and will never be changed, during my power to think : — 

"Nullius adJictus jurare in verba mngistri." 

Had I known at the time, as I afterwards learned, that Dr. 
Rush intended by the interview to which he invited me, to engage 
me as an adherent to his views and opinions in medicine, instead 
of holding views and opinions of my own, to whatever extent my 
vanity might have been gratified by the overture, my pride, which 
was far the stronger feeling of the two, would have instinctively 
rejected it, and probably have erected it into a permanent barrier 
to my future intimacy with him. lie habitually sought out, and 
seldom failed to discover, the best gifted and most promising- 
young men of his class, on their first arrival in Philadelphia (and 
if they were also well educated, so much the better), and, by atten- 
tion and kindness, attached them to him as a man. This being 
done, he considered them prepared for the reception of his hypo- 
theses, doctrines, and opinions, through the channel of their feel- 
ings. For he well knew that what generous young men strongly 
wish to be true, they are strongly inclined to believe to be true. 
The reason is plain. In youth we are much more disposed to 
consult our feelings and to be governed by them, because they 
are vigorous and intense, than to be guided by our judgment, 
because it is immature and comparatively feeble. And to no 
man was this truth more familiar than to Dr. Rush. Nor did any 
one act on it more frequently or more successfully. 

As soon, therefore, as he had sufficiently conciliated the feelings 
of the most prominent and influential young men of his class, 
especially of those who were adroit and conspicuous as debaters 
in the medical societies, he began the attempt, not merely in his 
public lectures, but still more earnestly and successfully in pri- 
vate interviews and conversations, to imbue their minds with his 
favorite opinions, as well in the practice as in the science of 
medicine. This statement I know to be true ; because the scheme 
was practised by him on myself. And the conversation of which 
I have spoken was the first act of it. 

Of that conversation I am inclined to believe that I spoke 
incorrectly, when I alleged that it was designed to instruct me. 
Certain it is that, for a substantial reason, it did not instruct me. 



148 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

It embraced, almost exclusively, subjects on which I was already 
informed — on nearly all of them, as a young American and a 
semi-backwoodsman, very correctly, if not extensively informed. 
Nor was he either backward or restricted in doing justice to my 
attainments in them. 

They consisted almost entirely of academical and collegiate 
acquirements; such as a knowledge of ancient and modern 
languages, mathematics, astronomy, natural, moral, and mental 
philosophy (the latter branch being then called metaphysics), 
English composition, and polite literature generally — more espe- 
cially the master works in English poetry, among which I might 
name in particular, Shakspeare and Milton, Dryden, Pope, Young, 
and Thomson. 

In most of these branches of knowledge, especially in the 
academical and collegiate ones, the doctor found me much better 
versed than he was himself; because I had been much more 
recently a student in them. Besides, he had never distinguished 
himself at college except in English composition, and, I believe, 
in moral philosophy. With the ancient languages, mathematics, 
and astronomy, his acquaintance w r as extremely limited. Of 
chemistry he knew nothing — and but little more of metaphysics 
or natural history. In truth, he was much more of a scholar 
than of a philosopher ; yet did his scholarship consist chiefly in 
his knowledge of the English tongue ; and what might be called 
his learning, consisted in his acquaintance with medical literature, 
and with belleslettres compositions of a modern date. To the 
literature of the ancients he was a stranger. Even the works of 
the physicians of Greece and Rome he never read except in 
translations. 

Inasmuch, then, I say, as the conversation referred to embraced 
only topics, in the knowledge of which I was fully Dr. Rush's 
equal, I did not derive from it any instruction. Nor, as I was 
subsequently convinced, was it his design to instruct me in it, but 
to ascertain, from a knowledge of my talents and attainments, 
whether I was qualified to aid him in the support and propagation 
of his medical doctrines ; and whether I could be induced to 
engage in the enterprise. 

Very different, however, were my expectation and wish, in 
making him a visit. They were of a much more humble, and 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M.D. 149 

perhaps, also, of a much more selfish description. To know him 
and become known to him, and to derive from him some sort of 
medical information, were the only objects to which I then imme- 
diately aspired. To a certain future project I was not indifferent. 
For even at that early period I more than dreamed of a medical 
professorship. But that was a consideration too remote to influ- 
ence my movements, and form them into a plan, on the occasion 
in question. Yet, in less than six months afterward, owing to 
my intimacy with Dr. Rush, and the friendly and favorable terms 
in which he usually spoke of me, a few of his own pupils, pos- 
sessed of envious and perhaps malicious spirits, and babbling and 
lawless tongues, the instruments of those spirits (whose overtures 
to become familiar with me I had, at first, civilly, but when too 
much importuned and pressed on the subject, perhaps somewhat 
cavalierly declined) — with a view to the production of a breach 
between the doctor and myself, those young meddlers had hatched 
and insidiously circulated a story, that I had, at first by flatter}'', 
and afterward by direct solicitation, prevailed on him to receive 
me as a private and "confidential pupil," for the purpose, to use 
their own language, of breeding me up to the trade of lecturing ; 
for I had already composed and read two papers (one to each of 
the medical societies) on two subjects, which he had induced me 
to select, because they were interesting and somewhat novel; and 
because I had conversed with him on them, in his study — some 
of his private pupils being present — and he was pleased with the 
views expressed by me in relation to them. 

No sooner had this fabrication reached me, than, deeply indig- 
nant at the unmanly and parasitical spirit it imputed to me, I 
called on the young men who were said to have been, in some 
way, concerned in the circulation, if not in the concoction of it. 
But they all promptly and positively disavowed the slightest 
agency of any description in it; and only one of them acknow- 
ledged that he had been previously even apprised of its existence. 
And, in refutation of their disavowal, I had no conclusive or 
very probable evidence. I then waited on Dr. Rush, under excite- 
ment too strong to be concealed, informed him of the whispered 
slander (for it was only whispered), and begged him to contradict 
and crush it with as little delay as possible. And I added, in a 
manner sufficiently firm and impassioned : "A rumor so foul 



150 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

and malicious must not and shall not be attached to my cha- 
racter." 

" You have bestowed on the story," said the doctor, "its proper 
name; it is but rumor ; which, as the poet assures us, has a hun- 
dred tongues (and, had he doubled the number, I should not 
have contradicted him), and rarely does even one of them tell 
the truth. Give yourself no uneasiness about so idle a fiction ; it 
will not be believed." 

And after a brief pause, he added: "If you will now promise 
me to pursue this matter no further, I promise you that it shall 
trouble you no further." 

" To your kind proposal," I returned, " a condition must be 
attached, and held inviolate. Should I be apprised, hereafter, 
of any offensive tattling on the subject, by young men of my 
own standing, I will instantly take measures to adjust the case in 
my own way, irrespective of every source and form of influence 
to the contrary. On that condition alone shall my immediate pro- 
secution of the affair be suspended." 

Here, our negotiation ended ; and I had reason to believe that 
the doctor acted promptly and efficiently in the business ; as not 
a whisper, in relation to it, was ever afterward conveyed to me. 

But I am again ahead of time and its concomitants, and must 
therefore turn back to the point of my narrative at which I left it. 
I have said that Dr. Rush had a special object in view, in the 
first visit to which he invited me. And that was to ascertain 
whether, from my talents and qualifications, I was fitted to be- 
come an agent in the promotion of his professional ambition — 
and whether I could be induced to engage in the enterprise. 
And for the procurement of information on these points, he 
managed his case with no little judgment — for he appealed di- 
rectly to observation and experiment, and managed his appeal 
with sufficient adroitness. 

Convinced, as he probably was, that should I adopt his doc- 
trines, I would fearlessly and faithfully do battle in their defence, 
as long as I could sustain them by arguments deemed sound ; 
yet, had he ground to be also convinced, or at least strongly ap- 
prehensive, that I would no less certainly decline their adoption, 
and contend against them, unless they should satisfactorily appear 
to me, on examination by myself, to be founded in truth. In plainer 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 151 

terms, he had seen enough of me to have been persuaded that on 
all subjects, I would independently and irrespectively think, in- 
vestigate, and decide for myself. Notwithstanding, however, these 
barriers to my fitness for a retainer in his retinue, Dr. Rush deemed 
my future advocacy of his doctrines an event so desirable, that 
he made arrangements to secure it by every suitable measure in 
his power. And it will appear hereafter, that, furiously assailed, 
in various ways, and from various quarters, as they often were, I 
proved their advocate, and came to their rescue when endangered, 
on every topic in relation to which I deemed them sound and 
sustainable. Though too proud and independent, therefore, to be 
moulded into a retainer, I was too firm in my attachment to truth, 
not to be an inflexible ally in its defence, when I deemed it in 
danger. 

As the lectures of the school went on, Dr. Rush's daily exami- 
nation of me, connected with his unusually frequent notice of me, 
by some remarks addressed to me, or brief conversation held with 
me after his lecture, and my obviously increasing familiarity with 
him, became a topic of observation by the whole class, and to a 
part of it was probably a source of dissatisfaction toward me. 
For, in every institution for the instruction of youth, he who 
becomes with his teacher a decided favorite, never fails to be an 
object of envy and dislike to some of his fellow-students, espe- 
cially to those whom he most surpasses in regular habits and 
sound attainment. 

Meantime, not a week, perhaps, passed in which I did not 
publish in the newspapers one or two favorable notices of some 
portion of Dr. Rush's lectures. And though I had never acknow- 
ledged myself the author of those articles, yet, that I was so, had 
now become the confident and proclaimed belief of every one 
who read them, and made any inquiry respecting their author- 
ship. And I persisted in the practice throughout the session, 
chiefly for two or three reasons. It was a pleasant amusement 
to me, and almost the only one to which I resorted. It preserved, 
if it did not improve my facility, force, and correctness in com- 
position, and it induced me to think more closely on the lectures, 
especially on those portions of them on which I commented, as 
well as on topics associated with those which they immediately 
involved. For, no one who duly respects himself and his com- 



152 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

position, will write and publish on any subject, without bestow- 
ing on it such a degree of attention and scrutiny as may lead to 
a thorough and correct understanding of it. And few men ex- 
amine topics with such severity and profit, unless they design to 
discuss them, and to give, in some way, publicity to the results 
of their labors. 

At length I published an article of greater length as well as 
more studied and elaborate, than any of my anterior ones, and 
which also attracted much more of the attention of the class, and 
excited in it far more conversation and remark. It was on one 
of Dr. Bush's lectures, in which he adverted to a difficulty in 
relation to one of the views previously submitted by him to the 
class, which he did not himself find it very easy to solve. Of 
this difficulty I offered a solution, in a newspaper article, which 
the doctor complimented very highly in presence of the class, 
pronouncing it new, and much more satisfactory than any other 
that had been previously given. Though, doubtless, not a little 
gratified by this applause, known as I was to be the author of the 
paper which received it, I sat, during the bestowal of it, apparently 
more unconcerned and indifferent, than perhaps any other indi- 
vidual in the class. And I afterward declined, even more strictly 
than usual, to hold with my fellow-students the conversation re- 
specting the article, in which they several times attempted to 
engage me. 

On the present occasion, even Dr. Eush himself manifested a 
disposition to draw from me some expression, or to excite in me 
some emotion, which might be construed into an acknowledge- 
ment of my being the author of the article. But he failed in his 
effort. For, when he put to me, in his examination of me, several 
questions which bore on the difficulty, whose solution I had 
attempted, I answered them in such a way that no interpre- 
tation to subserve his purpose could be affixed on either the 
matter or the manner of my reply. Apparently amused, there- 
fore, by what he probably considered a well-acted scene in the 
drama of " concealment," he said, with a smile barely perceptible, 
and a significant look, "I am satisfied," and commenced his lec- 
ture. 

In the course of his lectures, the doctor had frequently ad- 
vanced opinions in which I could not concur with him, because, 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 153 

in the abstract, I thought them wild and fanciful rather than 
natural and sound ; and in his attempts to prove them, his argu- 
ments were composed entirely of analogies instead of facts, many 
of them, in some cases, exceedingly loose. Having already, how- 
ever, learned that he was extremely sensitive on the subject of 
the favor or disfavor with which his opinions were received, un- 
usually pleased in the former case, and displeased or at least dis- 
satisfied in the latter, I manifested no positive non-concurrence in 
them, even when examined in relation to them ; nor did I express 
with my usual promptness and cordiality, my unconditional assent 
to them. To this midway and non-committal course, so different 
from that which I bad always habitually, and I may say instinct- 
ively, pursued, I was by no means reconciled. I regarded it as 
indicative of a condition of mind neither independent nor manly. 
But I was induced to adopt and persevere in it for two reasons. 
Being young in years as well as in the study of medicine, re- 
serve and modesty in the case were most becoming in me; and, in 
my connection with the professor, I was anxious to continue on 
the friendliest terms. 

At length, however, he broached to us his hypothesis (he called 
it his doctrine) of the unity of fever — that all fevers are the same 
— and that they consist in a convulsion of the arterial system. The 
annunciation of this singular notion, so different from any and 
everything I had previously heard, thought, or dreamed of, fairly 
startled me, and drove my belief into open rebellion. And, had 
I been then examined on the subject, my disbelief, under the im- 
pulse of the moment, would have been exhibited in words. Nor, 
were my sentiments toward the hypothesis at all propitiated, by 
the attempt of its author to sustain it by nineteen analogies (sub- 
sequently published in his Outlines of a Theory of Fever), some of 
them far-fetched, others greatly overstretched, and all of them un- 
accompanied by pertinent facts. Had it not been for my deter- 
mination not to miss either the whole or any part of a lecture 
during the course, I would have declined to attend Dr. Rush's 
lecture on the following day, or have entered his class-room at 
so late a period as to escape an examination by him. For, my 
reluctance to be examined on a new-fangled hypothesis and its 
mode of defence, both of which I must in honesty condemn, was 
seriously, not to say painfully embarrassing to me. On further 



154 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

reflection, however, I resolved to do neither, but to trust to acci- 
dent or expedient to relieve me from my embarrassment, or to 
sustain 'me under it. Nor was my trust disappointed. 

Fortunately for me, the doctor had learned that some of the 
private pupils of Doctor Kuhn had found fault with his theory of 
fever, and, by their representation or misrepresentation of it, had 
induced their preceptor to notice it in his lecture, which was de- 
livered at a subsequent hour of the same day. Deviating, there- 
fore, from his customary order, he, on the day following, com- 
menced his examination with them, as the subjects of it, and so 
far protracted the process (with which he never occupied more 
than fifteen minutes, and usually not more than from five to ten), 
as to reserve no time to put a question to me. Nor did he, in 
any of his subsequent examinations of me, or private conversa- 
tions with me, during the remainder of that session of the school, 
recur to the subject. 

But, though I rejoiced at not having been interrogated on the 
hypothesis of the unity of fever, and especially on the doctor's 
analogical defence of it, I was haunted by a desire, which gradually 
increased and ultimately ripened into a resolution, to make some 
manifestation of my opinion respecting it. But I also resolved to 
do so with a becoming degree of modesty, caution, and mildness. 
I soon found, however, that to frame such a resolve, was much 
easier than to execute it. For, to express sound and well-defined 
facts with all the delicacy, decorum, and suavity our language 
and kind feeling can be made to admit; yet, bring them into con- 
flict with even the strongest and most unexceptionable analogies, 
much more with very weak and defective ones, point and arrange 
them with judgment and skill, and urge them with even moderate 
force, and their effect is necessarily immediate and fatal. The 
analogies, however numerous their host, eloquent and attractive 
the style that communicates them, or consummate the skill with 
which they are arranged, fall of necessity in shattered fragments, 
or vanish like mist under the mid-day sun. They may be so 
employed as to enrich and ornament poetry and rhetoric; but 
neither talent nor ingenuity can render them subservient to the 
purposes of philosophy. And, on the occasion referred to, some- 
what in this way did I frame my argument against the notion of 
the unity of fever, and the mode of reasoning adopted in proof 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 155 

of it. Nor was this the limit of my remarks. In elucidation 
and establishment of my position, I contended that, were I per- 
mitted to avail myself of all the analogies, and conceal all the 
differences between any two, three, or more objects in nature, I 
could, to persons unacquainted with them, prove their identity. 
Thus, gold, iron, copper, and lead are metals which are lustrous, 
ponderable, hard, malleable, and soluble by heat. Therefore, 
gold is iron, copper, and lead ; iron is gold, copper, and lead ; 
copper is iron, gold, and lead ; and lead is iron, copper, and gold. 
A man, a monkey, a pig, a goat, and a sheep have eyes, ears, 
teeth, skins, flesh, and bones. Hence a man is a monkey, a pig, 
a goat, and a sheep; a monkey is a man, a pig, a goat, and a 
sheep ; a pig is a man, a monkey, a goat, and a sheep ; a goat is 
a sheep, a man, a monkey, and a pig ; and a sheep is a goat, a pig, 
a monkey, and a man. 

I further observed, that we can judge of things, and classify 
them only by their phenomena, not by their essence; because of 
essences we have no knowledge ; that if the phenomena be 
different from each other, the things themselves must also be 
different. That position I pronounced incontrovertibly true. 
Hence, I contended, that, as the complaints called fevers exhibit 
phenomena as widely different from each other as are the phe- 
nomena exhibited by different species of plants and animals, we 
are no more authorized to arrange the former under the term and 
predicament of identity or unity, than we are to group the latter 
in the same way. I represented it, moreover, as a matter of doubt, 
whether, under changes of circumstances and conditions, the cha- 
racteristic marks of animals and vegetables do not exhibit as 
many and striking varieties, as do the leading and characteristic 
symptoms of fevers. 

The evidences of painstaking and judgment exhibited in this 
article, were of a much higher order than those which had pre- 
sented themselves in either of my preceding ones. And though, 
in composing it, I had made intentionally some alteration in my 
style and manner, yet was its authorship, by the whole class, 
ascribed to me; and not only by the class, but also by Dr. 
Rush. "When he referred to it in his lecture, which he did on 
the day in which it made its appearance, I fully expected that 
he would . select it as the subject of my examination ; and I 



156 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

nerved myself to reply to him, with all the calmness and comity 
I could command, and with an equal degree of candor and firm- 
ness. But my expectation was groundless. Not a little to my gra- 
tification, the topic I was examined on was altogether different. 
He spent, however, several minutes in commenting on the article, 
commended the ingenuity and dexterity of its argument, as well 
as the scholarlike style of its composition, but pronounced the 
principles on which it was founded altogether erroneous. He 
was perceptibly dissatisfied with its design and tendency, not 
improbably because he was disappointed in them ; having both 
wished and hoped that the author of the critiques, which had all 
been so favorable and complimentary to him, would be also the 
advocate of his hypothesis of fever. 

On several previous occasions, he had, in great apparent sin- 
cerity and earnestness, enjoined on the pupils, as a duty to their 
own characters, as well as to their profession, to maintain with 
firmness their independence of mind, and, in all matters of import- 
ance, to think for themselves. But, on the present occasion, 
that injunction was completely abrogated by him. For, in words 
too clear and definite to be misapprehended, he gave them to un- 
derstand his opinion to be that their province, in that school, was 
to receive instruction from their preceptors — not to impart it to 
them ; in still plainer terms, to admit implicitly the truth of his 
opinions, and, on no account, presume to controvert them. And 
such was the positive tenor of his exactions, as will more fully 
appear, in some of the future details of my narrative. He was 
inordinately ambitious to be deemed an original, and to become 
the founder and leader of a sect in medicine. As respected, 
therefore, the reception or opposition of his doctrines by his 
pupils, he was one of the most arbitrary and intolerant of men. 
In consequence of this, he rarely, if ever, failed to break, at some 
period of their pupilage, with the most highly gifted young men 
of his class ; while his implicit adherents and followers were com- 
paratively feeble minded. 

Sufficiently apprised, as I now was, that this trait was one of 
the predominant elements of his character, I resolved to be influ- 
enced by it, in my future deportment toward him. Though no 
consideration of the kind could withhold me from forming opin- 
ions in opposition to his, did truth, or what I deemed to be truth, 
make a call on me to that effect ; yet did I not consider it either 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 157 

necessary in itself, discreet in me, important to science, or useful 
to the community, that I should incur his dissatisfaction, and 
forego my intimacy with him, by giving present publicity and 
currency to those opinions. Notwithstanding, therefore, my dis- 
sent from him on sundry topics presented in his lectures, I cher- 
ished that dissent in silence for the present, determined on its 
subsequent employment, if requisite; and, meantime, on certain 
points in his lectures, which were handsomely discussed by him, 
and respecting which he had my full concurrence, I published a 
few more complimentary critiques. And, by those acts of atten- 
tion, and well-meant partiality toward him (for I had as yet com- 
mended the lectures of none of his colleagues), aided by debates 
in defence of his opinions, occasionally held by me, in the medical 
societies (intelligence of which was uniformly conveyed to him) ; 
by those expedients, I continued on amicable and excellent terms 
with him, until the close of the lectures. And I then adopted a 
measure thought likely to strengthen them; an effect which, ap- 
parently, it did not fail to produce. I say apparently, because 
subsequent events, to be recited hereafter, rendered me then, and 
still hold me strongly doubtful touching the positive friendliness 
of the professor's feelings in relation to me. In truth, so inde- 
pendent was my spirit, and my purposes so unbending, that I not 
only doubt whether I was ever a genuine favorite with Dr. Rush ; 
I am persuaded that I never was. Nor, drawing my inference 
from the governing propensities of human nature, do I venture 
to say that I deserved to be. To become really his favorite, it 
was essential to be more or less his parasite, and cling to him, at 
least in appearance, like the vine to the forest tree. And I need 
hardly add, that I was wholly disqualified to play a part of that 
description. 

My design, on becoming a member of the Philadelphia School, 
was, to remain and pursue my studies in the city, until I should 
receive the honors of my profession. Soon after the close, there- 
fore, of the course of lectures of which I have spoken, having 
first, according to the best view of the subject I was able to form, 
arranged in my own mind the plan of study I might most ad- 
vantageously pursue, until the commencement of the next course, 
I waited on Dr. Rush, frankly unfolded to him my general scheme, 
and asked the favor of his opinion and advice in relation to it. I 



158 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

then, in order to bring the whole subject the more immediately 
and completely before him, and to be the more benefited by his 
decision, submitted to his inspection a sketch of my contemplated 
plan, to the following effect : — 

So many hours for reading medical and scientific works— so 
many for works on polite literature and history — so much time 
to be devoted to the examination and study of the cases of the 
sick in the Pennsylvania Hospital— so much to various sorts of 
composition — and so much to exercise, eating, and sleeping. In 
this scheme of engagement was included an attendance on two 
courses of lectures, to be delivered during the summer — one on 
Botany and Natural History, by Professor Barton, and another, 
by Dr. G , on the Brunonian doctrine of medicine. 

Having thrown his eye over this plan, he said to me, in a 
sprightly tone, and with a pleasant look: "Your plan is objection- 
able, I think, in two points." 

" Have the goodness, sir, to name them." 

" You have allotted to yourself no time for amusement, and too 
little, I fear, for exercise, eating, and sleeping." 

" My amusement," I replied, " will consist in my dalliance with 
polite literature, especially with poetry, and the enjoyment of 
botanical excursions ; and seven hours (the space I had allotted) 
are amply sufficient for exercise and repose. I rarely sleep more 
than four hours, or, at farthest, four and a half out of twenty -four, 
which will leave me the command of two and a half, one for my 
meals, and one and a half for exercise. And that is as large a 
portion of time as a young man, engaged in the study of a pro- 
fession and in the general cultivation of his mind, and who means 
to deserve the name of a student, can devote to those purposes. 
Besides, sir, my resolves on this subject are not so positive as to 
be either immutable or inflexible. An occasional and slight de- 
parture from them, for the sake of relaxation, should circumstances 
require it, will be quite admissible." 

"With these provisos," said the doctor, "your scheme is admir- 
able. I cannot suggest to it any amendment. Had I prescribed 
a plan of study to you myself, it would have been much less 
strict and laborious. Let that framed by yourself be executed 
with judgment, energy, and perseverance, and, with your talents, 
there is no honor in your profession to which you may not con- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 159 

fidently aspire, and ultimately attain. But your health must be 
cared for. And remember, that in relation to that, and in every- 
thing else connected with your studies, you may command my 
services." 

And thus ended an interview, which had been highly gratify- 
ing to me, and proved afterward useful. 

Having returned from Dr. Rush's dwelling to my own, my 
course of study, for the next seven months, was immediately 
commenced, and pursued with ardor and energy, under a strict 
adherence to the scheme already described — a single and incon- 
siderable point excepted. I did not attend Dr. G.'s lectures on 
Brunonism, for the following reason. 

The funds which I had brought with me to Philadelphia were 
already exhausted ; and my remittance from the South had not 
yet arrived. This statement I made to Doctor Barton, when I 
called on him to enter his class on botany, and added, "I shall 
not, I fear, be prepared to pay you for your ticket in less than 
from three to four weeks — and I am very unwilling to miss any 
part of your lectures." 

The doctor's reply was prompt and courteous. 

" That is a matter of no moment, except to yourself. I know 
what it is for a young man to want funds, when far from home ; 
for I have myself very keenly felt the evil. Here is my ticket, 
sir, pay for it when convenient." 

A few minutes having been passed in conversation with the 
professor, I took leave of him, called on Dr. G. for the procure- 
ment of his ticket, and gave to him the same account of my 
pecuniary destitution, my expectation, and my wish. But very 
different was the reply received. 

"Where do you lodge, and what is your name?" said the gen- 
tleman, in a sharp tone, and with a prying look. 

Surprised by the substance, and not pleased with the manner 
of the question, my first impulse was to leave the room without 
answering it. But, after pausing a moment, and perceiving no 
impropriety in gratifying the interrogator's prurient curiosity, I 
replied carelessly — 

"My name is Caldwell, and I lodge at Mr. T. P.'s, in Front 
Street." 

"Ha; yes," said he (noting the gentleman's name and mine on 



160 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

a scrap of paper); "yes, I know Mr. T. P. — quite a clever man. 
But my rule is to pocket the money, when I issue my ticket; 
nothing equals ready-money business, sir." 

"Then," said I, rising from my seat, and embodying in my look 
and manner all the scorn I had at command, "I shall not be the 
cause of separating you from that which seems so dear to you ;" 
and, without further parley, I walked toward the door. 

Perceiving his error, in supposing that I would waste time in 
chaffering about terms, he rose, and, following me, exclaimed, in 
an altered tone: "Oh, sir, I did not think you would be offended 
at what I said. I only meant to tell you what my rule is ; but 
you know I can alter it, to accommodate it to the circumstances 
of my pupils." 

"I am not now, sir, nor likely to be hereafter, related to you as 
a pupil," was my reply. And thus ended our interview. 

As there have been, in and about the city of Philadelphia, 
several physicians and professors of the same family name, it is 
requisite that I designate the gentleman of whom I am about to 
speak, as Benjamin Smith Barton, M. D., first Professor of Botany 
and Natural History, then of Materia Medica, and lastly of the 
Theory and Practice of Medicine in the University of Pennsyl- 
vania. Under the latter appointment, he was the immediate suc- 
cessor of Dr. Push, after the death of that distinguished teacher; 
and, according to my present remembrance, he occupied the chair 
during but two sessions, before his own removal from it, by the 
same cause. 

The character of that gentleman was so extraordinary a com- 
pound of incoherent and jarring, not to say contradictory elements, 
that to delineate it correctly is no easy task; and, to augment the 
difficulty of the task, his character was as fluctuating as it was 
self-inconsistent. 

I have known but few men who made, at first sight, on com- 
mon observers, a more vivid and favorable impression than Dr. 
Barton. But that impression was neither profound nor lasting; 
because he was himself as wanting in real profundity, as he was 
in steadiness and consistency with himself. In person, though 
not critically handsome, he was manly and striking. In stature, 
he was considerably above the middle height. His figure was 
well proportioned, his features strong, and his countenance lit up 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M.D. 161 

by eyes inordinately large, black, and full of fire; and, by his affa- 
bility and fluency in conversation, he exhibited those traits to great 
advantage. But the fire from his eyes was that of feeling and 
passion, rather than of superior genius and of that pre-eminence 
of intellect to the possession and reputation of which he certainly 
aspired ; for he was one of the most irritable and passionate of 
men. Yet did he possess no small amount of what is usually, 
though not very accurately, termed genius; and, in observation 
and the mere collection of facts, his intellect was uncommonly 
active, and not unsuccessful. But, in the higher operations of 
intellect — judgment, discrimination, and the exercise of reason — 
he was far from being distinguished. On the contrary, he was so 
strikingly deficient in them, as to commit more numerous blun- 
ders in his efforts to signalize himself in them than any other 
man I have ever known, who possessed, in public estimation, a 
standing so elevated. 

For those blunders he was indebted chiefly, perhaps entirely, 
to the excess of his pretensions and claims over his abilities and 
attainments; and his excesses related equally to science, scholar- 
ship, and a precise knowledge of the contents of books — in each 
of which he was ambitious to be thought unsurpassed, if not un- 
rivalled. A memorable scene occurred between him and myself, 
in the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, much to the amuse- 
ment of most of the members. 

In the discussion of a subject, in which I took an active part 
in opposition to him, having previously made due preparation 
for the contest, he found himself so entangled by a toil of his 
own sophistrj 7 , that an escape from it by argument was altogether 
hopeless. He therefore made an attempt to overwhelm me by 
an avalanche of authority. But, unfortunately for him as a de- 
bater and a lover of truth, his device was a blunder, and his au- 
thority a fiction. His reference was spurious; and, to his deep 
mortification, it was made to a volume which, but half an hour 
previously, as an act in preparing myself for the occasion, had 
been taken by me out of the library of the Pennsylvania Hos- 
pital, and was then in my pocket. 'I therefore placed it in his 
hand, and asked the favor of him to show me the passage alluded 
to by him; asserting, at the same time, with sufficient firmness, 
that it was not in the book. With marks of disappointment, 
11 



162 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

embarrassment, and vexation (the latter, perhaps, predominating), 
he hastily glanced from page to page of the work, and, finding 
in it nothing to his purpose, acknowledged himself mistaken, said 
that, through forgetfulness, he had referred to a wrong authority, 
but that in another publication, which he indiscreetly named, the 
opinion was contained. 

I said to him, with an emphasis on one of my words, " Are you 
sure, sir, that the sentiment is there?" 

"Perfectly sure," was bis reply. 

The Philadelphia Library being at hand, and open, I repaired 
to it immediately, and returning in a few minutes with the doctor's 
second book of reference, and, presenting it to him, requested 
him to turn to the controverted opinion, under a perfect convic- 
tion that it was not in the volume, and that he would, therefore, 
encounter another defeat. 

To be thus vanquished a second time, by a young man, who, 
but a few years previously, had been his pupil, was an event 
quite too mortifying to be patiently borne by him. After an 
awkward and unsuccessful attempt therefore to explain and pal- 
liate his blunder, and perceiving on the countenances of several 
members of the college, with whom he was no favorite, a sar- 
castic smile, indicative of their gratification at his discomfiture 
and perplexity, he offered as a plea a professional engagement, 
and left the room under high excitement — not to say, in a par- 
oxysm of anger. This, however, was but a single instance out 
of very many, in which he incurred mortification and ridicule, 
by exposures of his overwrought pretensions to book-knowledge 
and science — especially to an acquaintance with novel and unac- 
countable things. 

The malady was constitutional, and, notwithstanding the mul- 
tiplied checks it subsequently received, remained with him and 
seriously injured him, until the close of his life. Among those 
persons acquainted with the infirmity, his ungovernable propensity 
to exaggerate deprived both his lectures and writings of the 
respectability and value which the pearl of truth alone can 
bestow, and rendered them ' probably less estimable and useful 
than they ought to have been, and were actually calculated to 
be. Suspicion not unfrequently outruns reality, in relation to a 



163 

writer or teacher, who has been found to be even occasionally 
unobservant of accuracy. 

He was also somewhat unscrupulous in using, as his own, dis- 
coveries in science made by others and confidentially communi- 
cated to him. On myself he committed two plagiarisms of this 
description. Of these two predaceous acts, one related to the 
animal, and the other to the vegetable kingdom ; in both of 
which departments of nature the gentleman claimed to be all but 
omniscient; while his actual knowledge in them was limited 
almost entirely to that derived from books. From the book of 
nature he drew but little, as an original inquirer. Of course his 
addition of original matter to books from the press was equally 
limited. The instances of plagiarism just alluded to were as 
follows. 

Within a few years of the close of the eighteenth century (say 
in 1795 or 1796), appeared in Philadelphia Henry Moss, a native 
of Virginia, who for about two months engrossed a large share 
of public attention. He was of African descent, full-blooded, 
and, until the age of twenty-five or thirty years, possessed of a 
complexion unusually dark. About that period, with no symptom 
of indisposition, other than an unusual degree of chilliness during 
cold weather, his complexion underwent such a change that, with 
the exception of a few small spots on his hands, and one or two 
on other parts of his body, the skin of his whole system became 
of a chalky whiteness. The hair of his head and his beard expe- 
rienced the same change of color, and became also more soft and 
pliable. His eyes retained their native hue, and his person and 
features their form and proportions. 

The cause of this singular change of complexion was a theme 
of wonder to every one, and became to Dr. Barton and myself 
a subject of investigation. And we formed in relation to it dif- 
ferent opinions. The doctor, for what reason I never knew, 
believed the coloring matter to be washed or in some way removed 
from the skin, by perspiration, while I, having convinced myself, 
by experiment, that such was not the fact, attributed its removal 
to the process of absorption. My reason for this opinion was, 
that I found the whole rete mucosum, the seat of complexion 
(which is much thicker in the African than in the Caucasian 
skin), to be wanting in Henry Moss, except in those spots which 



164 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

retained their color, where it still remained. And I felt fully 
persuaded that that membrane, in common with other solids of the 
body, could be removed only by absorption. Nor was this my 
only ground of conviction that Dr. Barton's opinion was unten- 
able. 

The colored spots on Moss's skin were, at the time, in the 
process of disappearing— and the weather was very hot. I there- 
fore induced him frequently to excite, by exercise, a copious per- 
spiration, that I might ascertain, by suitable tests, whether the 
fluid perspired, by the colored portions of the skin, was itself 
colored. And I found that it was not. Hence my conviction 
that the rete mucosum and its color were not washed away by the 
fluid of perspiration, but removed by means of absorption. To 
the absence, moreover, of that membrane did I attribute the 
morbid sensibility of Henry Moss to a low temperature. The 
intervening membrane being absorbed, the true skin was protected 
from a cold atmosphere by nothing but the cuticle. And to the 
bloodless whiteness of the cutis vera was attributable the chalki- 
ness of the complexion. 

These facts and inferences did I frankly communicate to Dr. 
Barton, in a conversation with him on the subject. The conse- 
quence was that he abandoned his theory, adopted mine, and 
immediately prepared an article on the subject for the College 
of Physicians, or the American Philosophical Society (I forget 
which), and made no reference in it to me as the author of the 
doctrine, though every fact and idea contained in it had been 
communicated to him by me. Such was the gross injustice toward 
me of the first of the doctor's acts. And the second was in spirit 
much the same. 

In or about the year 1797, I made a series of very interesting 
and successful experiments on the stimulability of plants — the 
first of the sort, as I then believed, and still believe, that had ever 
been made in the United States ; and, as far as I was then, or am 
now informed on the subject, among the first that had been any- 
where made. But they have since become so common and 
familiar, as to be successfully performed everywhere. 

My object, in instituting my experiments, was to ascertain 
whether I could, by articles merely stimulating, but not known to 
be nutritive, accelerate the growth of plants — more .especially the 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 165 

blooming of flowers. The chief stimulants, whose action I 
employed, were caloric (warm air and warm water), camphor, 
assafetida, and volatile alkali. Those substances I applied to flower- 
buds, or rather to the branches or stocks which bore them, leaving 
others of the same sort and in a like condition untouched. And 
the former never failed to expand with the most rapidity, and to 
exhibit evidence of the highest degree of life and vigor. Of the 
leaves of plants, and of tufts of grass, the same was true. Those 
judiciously stimulated were most flourishing. These facts I also 
communicated to Dr. Barton, who, as often as we met, rarely failed 
to inquire, with apparent interest, what I was doing in science 
and letters — especially in botany and natural history — the two 
branches embraced by the professorship which he then held. 
On the occasion just referred to, he inquired of me whether I 
had prepared for the press au account of my experiments on the 
stimulability of plants. I replied that I had extensive notes on 
the subject, but had not yet reduced them to the form of a paper 
for publication ; nor would I do so, until the termination of 
another set of experiments, which were then under way. 

Immediately after this interview, the doctor commenced him- 
self a course of experiments on various plants, analogous to those 
which I had previously performed and made known to him, and 
the result was the same. Those stimulated were most rapid and 
vigorous in growth and bloom. Nor did the professor experi- 
ment only ; without ceremony, or loss of time, he wrote and pub- 
lished an account of his experiments, making not a shadow of 
reference to myself. Of this proceeding I took no notice at the 
time, except to two or three gentlemen who had witnessed my 
experiments, and were apprised of their priority to those of Dr. 
Barton. Neither, for the reason already stated, had I yet pre- 
pared any written account of them, other than my notes, which 
were full and circumstantial, and taken immediately at the time 
of their performance. By means of them I was amply prepared 
to vindicate my claim to the priority, in experimenting on the 
subject, not only over Dr. Barton, but over every other inhabitant 
of the United States. And I was resolved to do so, as soon as a 
suitable opportunity to that effect should present itself. Nor was 
it long before such an opportunity occurred. 

Mr. O, of Philadelphia, a medical student, who was about to 



166 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

take a degree in medicine, preferred to me a request to recom- 
mend to him some interesting and unhackneyed subject, as the 
groundwork of his thesis; and I committed to paper and placed 
in his hand the following title : " An Experimental Essay on the 
Irritability of Plants." On doing this, I said to the young gentle- 
man : " It will be necessary for you to perform experiments on 
the subject yourself, in which I will assist you ; and I will furnish 
you with notes on a series of similar experiments which I have 
performed, to which you may refer, in corroboration of your own, 
provided their result coincide with that of mine, which cannot, I 
am confident, fail to be the case." 

To work the young gentleman went, labored faithfully and suc- 
cessfully at his experiments, wrote a very good thesis, referred to 
me as the first American who had handled experimentally the 
subject of vegetable stimulability, and to Dr. Barton as the 
second, whose experiments had contributed to the confirmation 
of mine. 

In conformity to the requirement of the Medical School of 
Philadelphia, at the time, the thesis was printed, and a copy of it 
presented to each of the professors. 

No sooner had Dr. Barton thrown his eye over the essay, than 
he sent for its author, and angrily demanded of him why it was 
that he had given to my experiments on " vegetable stimula- 
bility" a prior date to his. The young man calmly replied : — 

"I did not give the prior date to the experiments; they pos- 
sessed it themselves, before I had any knowledge of them." 

" On what authority, sir, do you say so ?" 

" On the authority of a set of notes, which I have in my pos- 
session, attested by Dr. C h. and Dr. C r, who saw them 

performed." 

" Have those notes been published, sir ?" 

" I believe they have not." 

"Then, sir, my article, which has been published, is entitled 
to the priority; because the public have first seen it, and been 
first instructed by it. I must, therefore, insist on your giving it 
the priority in your thesis." 

" That I cannot do, sir, without the permission of Dr. Caldwell, 
to whom the matter will have to be referred." 

"Very well, sir; let the reference be made, and Dr. Caldwell 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 167 

and I will decide on our respective claims to priority the first 
time we meet." 

Thus was the matter put to rest ; conscious that he was in the 
wrong, feeling himself completely in my power, and not doubting 
that, if further provoked, I would give publicity to the whole 
transaction, the doctor asserted no further his claim to priority. 
On the contrary, to mask the chagrin which he certainly felt, he 
used, with apparent good humor, to complain of me because I 
had not published the discovery myself, as soon as I had made it, 
in order that the world might be informed of the condition and 
progress of philosophical botany in the United States. 

Though Dr. Barton's extra-professional inquiries and mine did 
not run in precisely the same channel, yet, connected as they 
were with the same departments of nature, they not unfrequently 
brought into collision our sentiments and remarks. On another 
point in anthropology, besides the cause of the change of com- 
plexion in Henry Moss, our difference in opinion was wide and 
radical. I allude to the original peopling of America. He con- 
tended that the stream of population, from the old world into 
the new, came from the northeast region of the former (the coun- 
try of the Tartars), into the northwest region of the latter, and 
thence diffused itself throughout the northern continent of it. In 
more definite language, he represented the Indians of North 
America as descendants of the Tartar race of Asia. And the 
only reason assigned by him for this opinion was some faint re- 
semblance which he found, or fancied, between a few vocables 
common to the languages of the two immense and greatly diver- 
sified bodies of people. On the discussion of this topic, it is not 
my purpose to labor at present, as I once labored.* 

Another point, on which the doctor and myself clashed in 
opinion, was the productive cause of cretinism and goitre. Those 
diseases he ascribed, in an article which he published, to the same 
sort of malaria which produces intermitting and remitting fever ; 
yet it' is well known that in Switzerland and other mountain 
regions, where the former maladies prevail most extensively and 
in their most deplorable forms, the latter rarely, if ever, appeared. 

* [The opinions of Dr. Caldwell on this subject, may be found in his treatise On 
the Peopling of the Continent of America. — Ed.] 



168 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

To that article I replied, not altogether without effect, in a paper 
printed in 1801, and contained in my earliest volume of Medical 
and Physical Memoirs. 

In the same volume is contained my reply to a paper on the 
"Winter Eetreat of Swallows," which had recently appeared in 
the New York Medical Repository, a periodical of high standing at 
the time, but which has been long discontinued. The writer of 
that paper contended that the swallow is not a " bird of passage ;" 
but that, instead of migrating to a warm climate, it passes the 
winter in our own climate, in hollow trees, the clefts and recesses 
of rocks, and even buried in mud and sand, at the bottoms of 
ponds, lakes, and rivers, from which they emerge in the spring, 
and take possession of their aerial abodes. And to this hypothe- 
sis, extraordinary and ludicrous as it is, Dr. Barton was far from 
being unfriendly ; though he did not inculcate it, in his lectures 
on natural history, he admitted the possibility that it might be 
true; and he cited, in favor of it, the authority of several distin- 
guished naturalists, without, therefore, positively adopting and 
defending it ; neither did he avowedly disclaim and reject it. He 
literally admitted the possibility of a physical impossibility — that 
a swallow can, at or near the end of summer, plunge to the bot- 
tom of a deep pond, lake, or river, inhume itself in mud or sand, 
lie there in a torpid condition until the month of March, and then, 
resuming active life, ascend to the surface, and, bounding into its 
native element, enter, with freshness, on the sports, loves, and 
labors destined to occupy it throughout the season. Can cre- 
dulity and folly "out-Herod" this? 

Yet was that hypothesis gravely discussed and countenanced 
by such naturalists as Ray, "Willoughby, Catesby, Linnasus, Kalm, 
Pennant, and others, and not rejected as promptly and decisively 
in his writings as it ought to have been, and, in his lectures, even 
favorably treated by Dr. Barton. As far, however, as I am in- 
formed on the subject, he never again, subsequently to my article 
on it, referred to it in his lectures with any show of approval. 

In the intercourse between the doctor and myself, the preced- 
ing incident created no interruption, nor any appearance of dis- 
cordiality. We met and conversed, as usual, with courtesy and 
marks of mutual good will. But a subsequent event produced 



169 

between us a very unwelcome degree of estrangement, and, on 
his part, of resentment and groundless crimination. 

But, that the statement I am about to make may be the more 
completely understood, and my own conduct, on the occasion 
alluded to, the more successfully vindicated, it is requisite that, 
before any further progress in my narrative be made, I detail the 
leading circumstances of the event which produced the breach 
between the doctor and myself. 

At the time now referred to, it was the custom, in the medical 
school of Philadelphia, for those who were candidates for the 
honors of the institution, not only to write inaugural theses, but 
also to have them printed, and to defend them in public, on the 
clay of graduation. This custom, which induced the candidates 
to write under the influence of all the resources they could bring 
to the task, was productive of many very valuable essays. But, 
as only a small number of copies of each were printed, and that 
number distributed in separate pamphlets, those essays conferred 
neither benefit on the community, nor lasting reputation on their 
youthful authors. 

To remedy this evil, a committee of the medical Faculty was 
appointed by the Board of Trustees to collect the theses, and 
republish annually a thousand copies of an octavo volume, con- 
taining not less than four hundred, nor more than about five 
hundred pages, consistiug of some of the most valuable of them; 
and the committee was composed of Dr. Barton and Dr. Wood- 
house, the two youngest professors in the school. 

Of these, Dr. Woodhouse, who was much the junior of the two 
gentlemen, though possessed of talents, was exceedingly indolent, 
wanting in energy, and more devoted to his table and his pillow 
than to his study and his library. He slept, or at least consumed 
in bed, at least ten hours of the natural day, declaring that a 
shorter period of sleep was wholly insufficient to preserve health 
of body and activity of mind. He allowed himself, therefore, to 
be completely under the control of Dr. Barton, who, though 
always busy and hurried, was remarkably irregular, unpunctual, 
and negligent, in all his transactions. 

From four to six months after their appointment as the com- 
mittee of publication, the two professors engaged, as their printer 
and publisher, Mr. Thomas Dobson, at that time the principal 



170 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

bookseller in Philadelphia; and there the business of their com- 
mitteeship was closed. Months and years passed away, without 
the performance of another act in promotion of the Thesaurus 
Media/ s of the University of Pennsylvania — the title which the 
collection, when published, Was intended to bear. 

In this condition of things, Dr. Push, still solicitous that the 
scheme should be accomplished, applied to me, entreating me to 
negotiate with Mr. Dobson, or some other publisher, a new con- 
tract, and become myself the editor of the work. 

Young as I was, and ambitious to be respectably and usefully 
employed, I agreed to the proposal. Perfectly aware, however, 
of the probability that I was about to come into collision with 
gentlemen possessed of tempers not very deeply imbued with the 
sweets of Hybla or the dews of Hymettus, I deemed it advisable 
to act with circumspection and care. Hence, I waited on Mr. 
Dobson, procured from him a certificate testifying to his abandon- 
ment of his contract with Dr. Barton and Dr. Woodhouse, stating 
the cause of that abandonment, and asserting his determination 
not to renew the contract with them, should they ever make an 
overture to him to that effect. 

These things being accomplished, I forthwith formed a contract 
with Thomas and William Bradford, printers, binding them to 
print, publish, and vend for me the Thesaurus Medicus, under the 
title of " Select Medical Theses ;" furnished them immediately 
with the requisite matter from other sources, accompanied by a 
" Preliminary Discourse," and an " Appendix," from my own 
pen; and the first volume of the work appeared in the autumn of 
1805, a few weeks before the assembling of the Philadelphia 
medical class. Nor, as it was eagerly sought for and purchased 
by the pupils, and by many of the physicians of Philadelphia and 
the neighboring country, had the publishers any cause to regret 
their having made themselves the proprietors of it. 

The Appendix, which consisted of three papers on the " Vitality 
of the Blood," enhanced not a little the reputation I already pos- 
sessed, in the United States as well as in England. Dr. Lettsom, 
and several other distinguished physicians of London, Dr. Darwin, 
of Litchfield, and Dr. Beddoes, then in the zenith of his fame, 
complimented me highly on the production. A letter, addressed 
to me by the latter gentleman, contained the following passage : 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 171 

"The vitality of the blood can be no longer even plausibly denied 
or doubted. Your papers have conclusively established the doc- 
trine." 

Even Dr. Eush, who had been until that time one of the most 
stubborn opposers of the doctrine, now adopted it, and taught it 
in his lectures for several years, referring to my papers for evi- 
dence confirmatory of it. But, when he subsequently became 
inimical to me, he abandoned it in his lectures, though he never 
became again its public opponent. So true is it that even dis- 
tinguished men allow their public teaching to be swayed and 
perverted by their private feelings! 

In the following year (1806), another volume of Select Theses 
was published, under my direction, and the work was then dis- 
continued. Nor was the cause of its discontinuance either un- 
known to the public or creditable to any one of the Philadelphia 
medical professors; and to the Professors Barton and Woodhouse 
it was strikingly discreditable. The reasons for the stopping of 
the work, one of which was irresistible, may be briefly stated : — 

Dr. Rush, when he urged me to become the editor of the The- 
saurus Medicus, promised to recommend it to his class, and thus 
aid in the promotion of its sale ; and, as related to the first vo- 
lume, his promise was redeemed. But, when the second appeared, 
though in no respect inferior to the first, his recommendation was 
withheld. As far as I could inform myself in the matter, he made 
not, either publicly or privately, in his lectures or in conversation, 
the slightest reference to it, in his intercourse with his pupils. 

The reason of his silence (at least the chief reason), I ascer- 
tained to be, that the recommendation bestowed by him on the 
first volume had been dissatisfactory to his two colleagues, Dr. 
Barton and Dr. Woodhouse, on his popularity with whom he set 
a higher estimate than on the redemption of his promise to me. 

Mortified by the issue of their neglect and delinquency, as 
the proposed editors of the Select Theses, and galled by the event 
of my having superseded them in that capacity, Drs. Barton 
and "Woodhouse had formed a determination, and concocted a 
scheme to disparage the work aud prevent its continuance. And 
their first device, in the execution of their scheme, was to with- 
draw from it the patronage of their influential colleague. Having 
accomplished that, they proceeded to the formation and execution 



172 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

of another measure of vengeance and mischief. And in that also 
they were successful. It was to the following effect. 

Complaints were occasionally uttered by a few of the candidates 
for graduation, in the medical school of Philadelphia, on account 
of being compelled, by one of the by-laws of the institution, to 
have their theses printed. Some of the grounds of this com- 
plaint were, that, from a scarcity of funds, they could not con- 
veniently meet the expense; that, being quite unversed in the 
art of composition, the process of preparing their dissertations 
was exceedingly irksome, laborious, and time-wasting ; that, when 
prepared with all the care and skill their authors could bestow, 
the productions were, as specimens of literature, scarcely less 
crude and discreditable than the exercises of schoolboys ; and 
that, in consequence of a want of experience and mental maturity 
in the writers, nearly all the theses were professionally barren 
and useless. 

Availing themselves of representations of this description, 
which, I need hardly say, were more specious than solid, Drs. 
Barton and Woodhouse moved, and by management ultimately 
carried, a resolution in the Faculty, by a majority of one, to abro- 
gate the by-law, which rendered it obligatory on candidates to 
have their theses printed. And the sanction of the measure by 
the trustees of the University was obtained by a similar manoeu- 
vre. Thus, by a single vote, in gratification of the temper of two 
delinquent individuals, was dried up forever the very fountain of 
the life blood of the Thesaurus Ifedicus, and its fair promise of 
usefulness destroyed. 

Such is a faithful record of the reason. why the custom of pub- 
lishing medical theses in the University of Pennsylvania, from 
which resulted no inconsiderable issue of very excellent disserta- 
tions, and which was annually increasing in number and improving 
in quality, was stricken down and abolished. I shall only add, that 
the whole transaction was a deliberate sacrifice of the interests of 
professional science and literature to the resentment of two men, 
whose official duty demanded that they should protect and pro- 
mote them. 

To the memory of Dr. Barton, however, it is due to say 
that, by introducing into his lectures on materia medica no small 
amount of botanical knowledge, together with copious expositions 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 173 

of the principles and practice of therapeutics, he was eminently 
instrumental in giving to the chair of that branch of the profession, 
the respectable rank it holds at present, in our schools of medicine. 
And this fact I record with the more readiness, and the higher grati- 
fication, on account of the unfavorable remarks, in other respects, 
which truth has compelled me to make in relation to him. For, 
to commend is a much more pleasing office than to condemn, even 
when the subject of commendation is an enemy. Previously to 
the promotion of the doctor to that chair, the lectures delivered 
from it, in the United States, consisted of very little else than dry 
details of the names, classes, imputed properties, doses, and modes 
of preparation, and exhibition of medicinal substances. 

I have said that Dr. Barton failed as a teacher of the theory 
and practice of medicine; but that he taught materia medica with 
ability and effect. To it may be justly subjoined, that, as a 
teacher of botan}' he possessed also at least one very high and 
important quality — an earnest and exciting enthusiasm, by which 
he induced his pupils to engage in the study of the science with 
a corresponding earnestness, accompanied by a resolution to teach 
themselves. And, as I have already intimated, I now repeat in 
plainer and stronger terms, that the most valuable and lasting 
benefaction a public teacher can confer on his pupils, is to im- 
plant in them a spirit of study and emulation by the influence of 
which, as springs of action and incentives to energy and exertion, 
they cannot fail in the attainment of knowledge. All the real 
science a public lecturer can, in a brief course of lectures, impart 
to his hearers, is in itself of little avail. But, if he inspire them 
with an ardent love of science, and teach them in what way they 
may most easily and effectually render themselves masters of it, 
he discharges his duty, and is a distinguished benefactor, not only 
to them, but to the community where they reside. 

Dr. Barton held a highly respectable rank in the Medical 
School of Philadelphia, but was never one of its pillars of support. 
He was subject to hereditary gout, which attacked him first at an 
early age, and often revisited him in irregular paroxysms. It 
assumed, at length, the form of hydrothorax. and terminated 
fatally before he had reached his fiftieth year. 

Of Dr. Woodhouse, my notice shall be brief; because he did 
not attain character sufficient to entitle him to one of much extent. 



174 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

Though a man of very respectable talents, yet did his habitual 
indolence prevent him from either reaching a high rank, or figur- 
ing in a spacious or a brilliant sphere. His appointment to the 
chair of chemistry, which he held for several years, was made, 
not as a reward for anything he had ever done for science, nor on 
account of his personal or professional popularity ; it was accom- 
plished by the influence of Dr. Eush, whose pupil Dr. Woodhouse 
had been, and who, also, for other reasons, felt a very eager in- 
terest in his occupancy of the chair. The contest for the place 
at the time of his appointment, was earnest and ardent. 

The competitors for the professorship were Dr. Woodhouse, 
and Dr. Seybert — the former, as already mentioned, a pupil and 
partisan of Dr. Rush, and the latter of Dr. Wistar, the two prin- 
cipals being deeply hostile to each other. In such a crisis, I 
need hardly say, that the leading if not the sole objects of Dr. 
Eush and Wistar were alike personal. Neither gentleman felt 
any special regard for his chosen candidate, except from the con- 
sideration that lie would be his own retainer, and, as such, would 
aid in giving him jwrty strength in the institution. The respect- 
ive claims of the two candidates having been vigorously pushed 
for several weeks, the day of election at length arrived, the vote 
was taken, and Woodhouse was chosen, though Seybert was, at 
the time, the most experienced chemist. The former gentleman, 
however, awakened and roused to action by the event, began 
immediately to prepare himself for the duties of his new and 
promising career, with a degree of zeal and energy to which he 
had been previously an entire stranger. Nor is it aught but 
justice to him to say, that his improvement in the science he was 
destined to teach was signally rapid. Die became, in a short 
time, so expert and successful an experimenter, as to receive from 
Dr. Priestley, who had just arrived in the United States, very flat- 
tering compliments on his dexterity and skill. That distinguished 
gentleman, on seeing him engaged in the business of his labora- 
tory, did not hesitate to pronounce him equal, as an experimenter, 
to any one he had seen in either England or France. And he 
had visited the laboratory of Cuvier himself. To everything, 
however, but experimental chemistry, Woodhouse soon became 
again comparatively dull and indifferent. But for that form of 
the science, he retained until his death, a predilection and fond- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 175 

neas, which were denominated, with sufficient aptitude, in tech- 
nical language, his "elective attraction." At times, his devotion 
to it and the labor he sustained in the cultivation of it, were 
positively marvellous — not to say preternatural. To the young 
men who attended his lectures, he, to use his own words, recom- 
mended " Miss Chemistry as their only mistress," the only object 
of their devotion and homage. During an entire summer (one 
of the hottest I have ever experienced), he literally lived in his 
laboratory, and clung to his experiments with an enthusiasm 
ami persistency which at length threw him into a paroxysm of 
mental derangement, marked by the most extravagant hallucina- 
tions and fancies. He even believed, and, on one occasion, pro- 
claimed, in a company of ladies and gentlemen, that, by chemical 
agency alone, he could produce a human being. 

The special object of his experiments at that time was the 
decomposition and recomposition of water. The agent employed 
in his processes was of course caloric. And no alchymist in 
pursuit of the alcahesl, or the philosopher's stone, ever labored in 
his vocation with a wilder enthusiasm, a more sublimated inten- 
sity, or a perseverance more stubborn, than he did, immersed in 
a temperature intolerable to any human being possessed of natu- 
ral and healthful sensibility. 

As already mentioned, the weather was almost unprecedentedly 
hot; and his laboratory was iu sundry places perpetually glow- 
ing with blazing charcoal, and red-hot furnaces, crucibles, and 
gun-barrels, and often bathed in every portion of it with the 
steam of boiling water. Rarely, during the day, was the tempera- 
ture of its atmosphere lower than from 110° to 115° of Fahren- 
heit — at times, perhaps, even higher. 

Almost daily did I visit the professor in that salamander's home, 
and uniformly found him in the same condition — stripped to his 
shirt and summer pantaloons, his collar unbuttoned, his sleeves 
rolled up above his elbows, the sweat streaming copiously down 
his face and person, and his whole vesture drippingly wet with 
the same fluid. lid himself, moreover, being always engaged in 
either actually performing or in closely watching and superin- 
tending his processes, was stationed for the most part in or near 
to one of the hottest spots in his laboratory. 

My salutation to him on entering his semi-Phlegethon of heat 



176 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

not unfrequently was : " Good God, doctor, how can you bear to 
remain so constantly in so hot a room? It is a perfect pur- 
gatory !" To this half interrogatory, half exclamation, the reply 
received was usually to the same purport. " Hot, sir — hot ! do 
you call this a hot room? Why, sir, it is one of the coolest 
rooms in Philadelphia. Exhalation, sir, is the most cooling pro- 
cess. And do you not see how the sweat exhales from my body, 
and carries off all the caloric? Do you not know, sir, that, by 
exhalation, ice can be produced under the sun of the hottest 
climates?" 

Such was the professor's doctrine ; nor have I the slightest 
doubt of his belief in its correctness. So deep is the hallucina- 
tion in which alchemy first, and afterward chemistry, its lineal 
descendant, have, in many cases, involved the minds of their 
votaries and rendered them permanently wild and visionary in 
their action. It is not, I think, to be doubted that alchemy and 
chemistry have deranged a greater number of intellects than all 
other branches of science united. Even at the present day it is 
hardly short of lunacy to contend, as many chemists do, that 
chemical and vital forces are identical. 

Dr. Woodhouse, phlegmatic' and saturnine as he usually was, 
possessed and displayed at times some of the crotchets which 
characterize genius. He held the chair of chemistry not less, I 
think, than nine or ten years, and delivered at the commencement 
of each course the same introductory lecture, unchanged by the 
addition or alteration of a word. Yet was it in both matter and 
composition, a crude and rather common-place sophomorical pro- 
duction. Nor was it at all improved by the doctor's delivery of 
it, which was dull and monotonous. 

Dr. "Woodhouse's didactic lectures rarely occupied, each of 
them, more than forty minutes — and often not near so much. 
And when interrogated on the subject, the reason he rendered 
for such brevity was, that " no man could dwell, in discussion, on 
a single topic more than five minutes without talking nonsense." 

He died of an acute disease (apoplectic, if my remembrance be 
correct) before his fortieth year, leaving behind him no memorial, 
scientific or literary, to speak of his existence to future times. 
He died also unmarried, and therefore without a family. 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 177 



CHAPTER V. 

Yellow fever in Philadelphia — Flight of the inhabitants — Commerce arrested — New- 
York — Difficulty in obtaining lodgings — Fever Hospital — Writes on domestic 
origin — Dr. Rush — His courage and firmness — His judicious practice — Calomel — 
Its efficacy as a remedy — Rush's dose of "ten and ten" — Rush's opinion of the 
domestic origin of yellow fever, supported by Aretreus, Jr. — Schuylkill water — 
Mode of debating — Close of medical session — Translated Blumenbach — Plan of 
study — Diet — Exercise — Failing health — The brain multiplex — Gall — Spurzheim. 

The year 1793 was one of the most memorable that Philadel- 
phia Las ever witnessed. And the memorableness of it arose from 
the desolating, and in some respects revolutionary sweep of pesti- 
lence, under the name of yellow fever, which the city sustained 
during the summer and autumn of it. 

The sweep was desolating from its destruction of human life, 
and temporary banishment of a large portion of the inhabitants ; 
and revolutionary from its influence in producing, for a very pro- 
tracted period, no inconsiderable change in certain kinds of the 
commerce and business of the city, and in the opinions of physi- 
cians and of the citizens in general, respecting the causes and 
nature of a given class of diseases, and the most effectual means 
of preserving health. 

It has been already mentioned that the visitation of yellow 
fever, in the year 1793, gave the first obvious impulse to the 
ascendency of New York over Philadelphia, in the coasting trade, 
and the business connected with it; and of course it contributed, 
in a corresponding degree, to the superior augmentation of the 
growth of the former metropolis. And, from that period until 
within a few years of the present, its ascendency, in both respects, 
has been regularly increasing. 

Nor did the calamity which Philadelphia suffered in 1793, pro- 
duce less effect in the change of public opinion on certain interest- 
ing and important points respecting the means of preserving 
12 



178 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

health, and the nature and sources of given sorts of disease. 
But, waiving for the present, the consideration of those topics in 
a body, it is my purpose to treat them somewhat in detail in the 
course of my narrative. 

It may not be altogether uninteresting or useless in me briefly 
to remark in this place, that pestilence rarely, if ever, descends 
on a city or tract of country so suddenly or secretly as not to 
give, to physicians of observation and judgment, some significant 
premonitions of its approach. In the changes which occur in the 
aspect and character of the common diseases of the place, the 
" coming events" may be correctly said, as a general rule, to 
" throw their shadows before." The diseases referred to, besides 
being marked by new symptoms, become more severe, obstinate, 
and dangerous. To such an extent is this statement often verified, 
that affections which had been previously altogether mild and 
manageable, become unexpectedly so rebellious and intractable 
as to resist the ablest and most skilful treatment, and terminate 
in death. 

Such was the condition of things in Philadelphia in the spring 
and the early part of the summer of 1793. The most experienced 
and skilful physicians of the place were equally astonished and 
alarmed at finding themselves frequently foiled and defeated in 
their treatment of complaints, which had previously yielded with 
entire facility. And this continued to be more and more the case, 
as the season advanced, and the weather became more intemperate 
and dry. For a prominent and characteristic feature of the sea- 
son was the prevalence of a distressing drought. For nearly or 
quite three months, not a drop of rain descended to water the 
parched and dusty streets, and cool the burning atmosphere of 
the city. Nor do facts forbid me to add that a never-failing con- 
comitant of the visitations of pestilential epidemics is some sort 
of meteorological irregularity. In some instances, lightning and 
thunder are greatly superabundant ; in others, equivalently want- 
ing. I have witnessed both occurrences in Philadelphia, where, 
from 1793 to 1805, inclusive, yellow fever prevailed epidemically 
seven times. 

During the spring and the first two summer months of 1793, 1 
pursued with regularity and intenseness my settled scheme of 
study, neither wasting an hour, nor neglecting a proffered and 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 179 

practicable expedient for my improvement in knowledge. But, 
early in August, the storm-cloud which had for some time pre- 
sented a threatening aspect, burst on the city in a tempest of 
pestilence, produced among the inhabitants the utmost dismay 
and confusion, and drove from their customary channels all sorts 
of pursuits and occupations, whether public or private, and 
whether connected with commerce or the arts, science and letters, 
or social intercourse. In the midst of this general consternation 
and partial dissolution of society itself, it was impossible for my 
engagements to escape participating in the temporary wreck. 

The first serious inconvenience I experienced arose from the 
flight into the country of the family in which I lodged, to avoid 
destruction by the supposed contagion of the prevailing disease. 
For, on its commencement, two opinions respecting it were nearly 
universal. That it was deeply contagious, and almost necessarily 
fatal. And, indeed, the latter opinion, in particular, was favored 
by facts too numerous and confirmatory to be witnessed without 
apprehension and dismay. For, of those first attacked by the 
epidemic, very few recovered. And this, be it remembered, is 
true of every malignant pestilential disease. To its earliest sub- 
jects it is fearfully fatal. For this result, several probable, if not 
certain, reasons may be rendered. 

Those first attacked have, for the most part, constitutions 
shattered by dissipation and irregularity of life, or, from other 
cause are debilitated in their conservative powers, and therefore 
strongly predisposed to the malady. For want of a due sense of 
danger, medical aid is not early enough employed: and, even 
when employed, physicians are not at first sufficiently versed in 
the best mode of treating the complaint ; for the successful treat- 
ment of new and malignant maladies can be learned only by 
experience. 

From the next family in which I took lodging I experienced 
the same inconvenience. In a few days after I had become a 
member of it, the house was deserted in a panic from a similar 
cause ; and I was compelled to search for other accommodations. 
And a like desertion was repeated several times more, until it 
became impracticable for me to find a suitable residence in any 
part of the city. From the sickly sections of the place every one 
that could command the requisite means had already fled, or was 



180 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

preparing to fly. And in the healthy sections (for some con- 
tinued healthy during the whole season), the inhabitants became 
unwilling to receive new lodgers, lest contagion lurking in their 
systems might engender the disease. 

Under these circumstances, my perplexity became extreme. 
For I had determined not to retreat into the country, but to con- 
tinue in the city, and, if prevented from improving in knowledge 
by attending lectures on botany and reading books from the 
press, to turn my attention to the book of nature by some sort of 
an attendance on the sick, and endeavor to derive useful know- 
ledge from that source. 

"While in this state of embarrassment and uncertainty as to 
the course I should pursue, I was informed by Dr. Eush, whom 
I had apprised of my earnest desire to become acquainted with 
the epidemic, that, at a short distance from the city, a hospital for 
the reception of pestilential patients had just been opened, and 
that a few qualified young men were wanted in it as resident 
pupils and aids, to prepare and administer medical prescriptions, 
superintend the nurses, and render such other services as the 
establishment might require. He added that no compensation 
for such young men was provided, except their subsistence ; and 
that, as yet, the dread of contagion and death had entirely pre- 
vented applications for the place. Delighted with the opportunity 
thus presented to me, my answer was prompt and even enthu- 
siastic. "I dread neither, sir, and will immediately present my- 
self." And having uttered these words, I bowed and hastened 
toward the door on my way to the hospital. Eecollecting, how- 
ever, that I was a stranger in Philadelphia, I returned to Dr. 
Rush and said to him in a tone, the purport of which he well 
understood, " Nobody at the hospital knows who I am." " I will 
tell them, sir," was his reply. And he immediately wrote and 
handed to me a note containing the following words: — 

"Mr. Caldwell, the bearer of this note, is desirous of becoming 
an aid in the City Hospital ; and he is as well qualified as he is 
willing to perform the duties of the place." 

BENJAMIN RUSH. 

Having received this, with sincere gratitude, but unable to 
express my thankfulness in words, I warmly pressed the hand of 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 181 

my benefactor, hurried to the door, set out for the hospital, and, 
in less than an hour, was busily engaged in my new occupation. 

And from the first moment of my entrance on it, my engage- 
ments and duties were as abundant and pressing as they were 
melancholy and momentous. In my capacity as a medical assist- 
ant, I was alone; for, as yet, no other pupil had tendered his 
services. The dread of contagion still kept aloof those young 
men, who would otherwise have eagerly availed themselves of the 
advantages of observation and experience in the treatment of 
disease which the institution afforded. The nurses were also few 
and inexperienced, and the provisions and arrangements in all 
respects limited, crude, and insufficient for the occasion. In fact, 
the whole establishment being, in its character as a hospital, the 
product of but two or three days' labor, by men alogcther un- 
versed in such business, was a likeness in miniature of the city 
and the time, a scene of deep confusion and distress, not to say 
of utter desolation. The hospital edifice was large ; several rooms 
of it were already filled with the sick and dying; patients in a 
like condition were hourly arriving from the sickly portions of 
the city; and with a frequency not much inferior, the dead were 
leaving it on their passage to the grave. No apartments being 
yet prepared for the use and accommodation of the medical assist- 
ants, I was obliged to eat, drink, and sleep (when, indeed, I was 
permitted to sleep), in the same rooms in which I ministered to 
the wants of the sick. And not only did I sleep in the same 
rooms with my patients, but also at times on the same bed. To 
such an extent and in so striking a manner was this the case, 
that, when exhausted by fatigue and want of rest, I repeatedly 
threw myself on the bed of one of my patients, either alongside 
of him or at his feet, and slept an hour or two, on awaking, I found 
him a corpse. At other times, under similar circumstances, I 
have received from a patient, on some part of my apparel, a por- 
tion of the matter of "black vomit." And I was inhaling the 
breatli of the sick, and immersed in the matter which exhaled 
from their systems, every hour of the day and night. For I was 
perpetually in the midst of them. 

These facts I mention, to show the risks I incurred of suffering 
by contagion; and, indeed, the utter improbability, not to say the 
impossibility, of my having escaped it, had the disease been con- 



132 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

tagious. But it was not until some years afterwards that I became 
fully convinced that it ivas not, for my first belief, received from 
books (the writings of physicians), private preceptors, and public 
lecturers had been the reverse. And it was a resort to the book 
of nature alone — I mean to a succession of natural events — which 
presented themselves to my observation, in the course of my ex- 
periments and practice, that produced the change. 

Having become familar with such facts, and being convinced 
that they were facts, I at length abandoned my belief in the con- 
tagiousness of yellow fever, and published, to that effect, an arti- 
cle of some length in one of the newspapers of the day * The 
communicability of yellow fever from, the sick to the well, was as 
firmly believed in at that time, and as resolutely maintained, as was 
the communicability of smallpox itself. And of all contagiouists, 
Dr. Rush was one of the most extravagant and stubborn. And 
he persisted in his belief for many years, in opposition to all the 
facts and arguments that could be arrayed against it. Yet did he 
subsequently receive the credit of being the author of the doctrine 
of non-contagion. And with many persons he retains that credit 
to the present day. 

My paper in denial of the contagiousness of the epidemic, 
not only attracted notice, but was replied to and opposed by 
several writers, who differed from me in opinion. This drew 
from me a rejoinder of some earnestness, which I followed, and 
supported by several other papers on the same subject. 

The month of November was fast passing away, and, contrary 
to the usual custom, the medical class was but beginning to assem- 
ble. The true causes, and the only time of the prevalence of yel- 
low fever not being yet understood, the dread of contagion, which 

* The papers here referred to, were afterward collected and republished in 
Caldwell's Medical and Physiological Memoirs. They furnish the first eight numbers 
of the second "Memoir" in that work, entitled: "Facts and Observations Relative 
to the Origin and Nature of Yellow Fever." 

It may be worthy of remark, in this place, that Dr. Rush, in his Medical Inquiries 
and Observations, vol. iv. page 208, repudiates his former opinion of the contagi- 
ousness of yellow fever and plague, and says: "For the change of my opinion 
upon this subject, I am indebted to Dr. Caldwell's and Mr. Webster's publications 
upon pestilential diseases, and to the travels of Marini, and Sonninl into Syria and 
Egypt. A note in Dr. Caldwell's Memoirs, refers to Mr. Webster's publication as 
being subsequent to his own. — Note by the Editor. 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 183 

pervaded the entire Union, still kept the young men lingering at 
home, or slowly and cautiously entering Philadelphia in small 
and scattering numbers, somewhat like the wreck-timbers of the 
fleet of iEneas, " rari nantes in gurgite vasto." At length, how- 
ever, though the class of the winter, all told, amounted to less 
than a hundred, a sufficient number had arrived to induce the 
professors to commence their lectures ; and the introductory of 
Dr. Rush was a performance of deep and touching interest, and 
never, I think, to be forgotten (while his memory endures) by 
any one who listened to it, and was susceptible of the impression 
it was calculated to make. It consisted in a well-written and 
graphical description of the terrible sweep of the late pestilence ; 
the wild dismay and temporary desolation it had produced ; the 
scenes of family and individual suffering and woe he had wit- 
nessed during its ravages ; the mental dejection, approaching 
despair, which ho himself had experienced, on account of the 
entire failure of his original mode of practice in it, and the loss 
of his earliest patients (some of them personal friends) ; the joy 
he felt on the discovery of a successful mode of treating it ; the 
benefactions which he had afterward the happiness to confer, and 
the gratulations with which (after the success of his practice had 
become known) he was often received in sick and afflicted fami- 
lies. The discourse, though highly colored, and marked by not 
a few figures of fancy, and bursts of feeling, was, notwithstand- 
ing, sufficiently fraught with substantial matter to render it no 
less instructive than it was fascinating. Though fifty-two years 
and more than seveu months have passed over me "ince the time 
of its delivery, yet are many of the representations it contained 
as fresh in my memory as the occurrences of yesterday; and were 
I master of the pencil, I could accurately delineate the figure, 
countenance, attitude, and entire manner and appearance of the 
professor, as he sat at his desk. 

Nor was the lecture entirely sombre, lugubrious, and pathetic. 
Far from it. Among other topics, the doctor referred to the 
abuse and persecution he had sustained from the College of Phy- 
sicians of Philadelphia, as a body, and from several individual 
physicians of the place, on account of the extent to which he had 
carried bloodletting in his practice in the epidemic, but, more 
especially, on account of a purgative dose he had introduced, 



184 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

which, in size, was denounced as perfectly enormous. It was a 
mixture of ten grains of calomel, and ten of jalap — a dose which 
is now accounted moderate, at least, if not diminutive. But, pre- 
viously to that time, calomel had never been so copiously admi- 
nistered in Philadelphia, nor, as far as I am informed, in any other 
part of the Middle or Eastern Atlantic States. From three to five 
or six grains of that article had been regarded, until then, as an 
ample dose. 

In his representations of the wrongs he had thus suffered, and 
of the calumnies and invectives with which he and his practice 
had been assailed, the doctor was sufficiently sarcastic and tren- 
chant. Nor were his remarks altogether unspiced with humor 
and ridicule. Of the denunciation of his purgative dose of ten 
and ten, as it was contemptuously called by his enemies and re- 
vilers, he gave the following terse and ludicrous account: — 

" Dr. K-n," said he, " called it a murderous dose ! Dr. H-ge 
called it a dose for a horse/ And Dr. B-t-n called it a devil of a 
dose ! — Dr. H.," he continued, " who is nearly as large as Goliath 
of Gath, and quite as vauntful and malignant, even threatened to 
give me a flogging. Dr. H. flog me ! — Why, gentlemen, if a horse 
kicks me, I will not kick him back again. But here is my man 
Ben" (his coachman) " whose trade is to beat beasts. He is will- 
ing to meet Dr. H. in my place, and play brute with him as soon 
as he pleases. I have that to do which belongs to a man" 

Dr. Rush being naturally a man of a very susceptible tempera- 
ment, became so highly excited by the scenes he witnessed, and 
was himself engaged in, during the prevalence of the epidemic, 
as to make, at times, in both words and actions, certain wild and 
extraordinary manifestations. He was said, for example, contrary 
to his usual custom, to talk aloud to himself, while walking the 
street alone, and, at the same time, to look and gesticulate as if he 
were conversing with one or more persons who accompanied him. 
He was further reported to be much more than usually dogmatical 
in the assertion of his opinions, and more impetuous, irrespective, 
and overbearing in his manners. 

These and other like stories (whether entirely untrue I know 
not, but doubtless greatly exaggerated), were collected by the 
doctor's enemies, and inserted in the public prints, in order to 
injure him, by showing him to be insane. And, to some extent, 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 185 

they did injure him. Among many others, the following anec- 
dote respecting him found its way into the newspapers ; and the 
doctor himself acknowledged to me that it was substantially true 
■ — and, at the same time, smiled at its ludicrous extravagance. 

Many physicians having deserted their posts and fled into the 
country, and not a few of those who had remained and done battle 
with the pestilence being sick, medical aid was exceedingly scarce, 
and diihcult to be obtained. Under these circumstances, so dis- 
tracting and calamitous, Dr. Eush, who had received an urgent 
call to visit a sick friend, on the border of Kensington most re- 
mote from the city, was seen passing over a bridge in that suburb, 
where the epidemic was raging with great violence. And by the 
same route he was expected to return, which proved to be the case. 

No sooner was it known that the doctor was, in a short time, 
to pass the bridge again, than, from all parts of the village, the 
friends ami connections of the sick hurried to the place, to pro- 
cure from him visits, if possible; and, if disappointed in that, 
directions how to relieve the suffering, and save the lives of those 
that were dear to them. 

When on his return, therefore, the doctor arrived at the bridge, 
he found his passage over it completely obstructed, not by dozens 
or scores, but actually by hundreds, who, with one voice, implored 
his aid in a manner the most earnest, and in terms not to be re- 
sisted by obduracy itself. 

To visit, however, all the cases to which he was invited, was 
impossible. And every consideration bearing on the subject 
forbade a selection, lie must visit all, or visit none. Without 
descending from his curricle, therefore, he let down the top of it, 
and requested the crowd to approach as near to him as they could, 
in his rear and by his sides, leaving open the passage in front. 
Ilis request being complied with, he addressed to the anxious 
listeners a few conciliatory remarks, and then subjoined, in a 
voice that all could hear: "I treat my patients successfully by 
bloodletting, and copious purging with calomel and jalap, in 
doses of ten grains of each for adults, and of six or eight for 
children — and I advise you, my good friends, to use the same 
remedies." 

" What," said a voice from the crowd, " bleed and purge every 
one?" 



186 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

" Yes," said the doctor, " bleed and purge all Kensington ! — 
Drive on, Ben." 

And immediately the wonder-stricken multitude was far in his 
rear. 

"Such advice and conduct," said the professor's assailants, "are 
the result of positive madness, or of something worse. The author 
of it, therefore, is unworthy of public confidence, and ought not 
to be permitted to enter a sick room." 

Such were some of the scenes and events produced by the 
memorable pestilential epidemic, which swept over Philadelphia 
in 1793, rendering it, for a time, the abode of unprecedented terror 
and dismay, hurrying to their graves, in the short period of three 
months, several thousands of its inhabitants, injuring irrecoverably, 
for a long period, certain branches of its commerce, and darkening 
it, for a season, with the gloom of bereavement and the badges of 
mourning. Though I do not deem mj'self a man of the most 
susceptible temperament, nor do I believe that I am so deemed 
by any one to whom I am known; yet, so deep and indelible is 
the impression produced on me, by that memorable visitation, 
that, even now, after the lapse of more than half a century, as 
often as I see the two figures 93, or hear them named, some of 
the scenes of the calamity are revived in my memory, with a 
degree of freshness bordering on that which they originally 
possessed. But to return to the more regular branch of my nar- 
rative. 

A promise which I made to Dr. Bush respecting the doctrine 
of domestic origin, I neither forgot nor neglected. At an early 
meeting, therefore, of the Philadelphia Medical Society, I intro- 
duced it for discussion, in a paper carefully written for the pur- 
pose. Having informed Dr. Bush in person of my design, I had 
procured from the President of the Society an order to the Secre- 
tary, to insert in the public prints notices of the intended debate, 
in order that there might be a full meeting, and that the advocates 
of foreign origin in particular might be present, and make their 
best practicable defence of their hypothesis. I call the belief a 
hypothesis now, and I gave it the same name at the time, somewhat 
to the dissatisfaction of the party who were its advocates, especi- 
ally of one of them, a heavy-headed, self-consequential, and prosing 
dogmatist, advanced in life, who, in his ponderous talk on the 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 187 

subject, among a mass of other trumpery of mind, hoped that the 
"young gentleman, so fluent in words" (referring to myself in a 
style that displeased me), " would favor the Society with his defi- 
nition of hypothesis" and then made a pause ; when I instantly 
rose and calmly replied : — ■ 

"With pleasure, Mr. Chairman. An hypothesis is a notion un- 
supported by fact — an exemplification of which has been abund- 
antly given by the gentleman and his friends. Throughout the 
entire evening they have amused the Society with nothing but 
notions, backed by suppositions, or at least by hearsay. All 
their matter is derivative — the product of neither their own ob- 
servation nor their own thought — the mere fruit, or rather excre- 
tion of their memory, which has imbibed it from books, or from 
some form of oral communication. They have favored us with 
nothing of the wealth of their own resources — have told us of 
nothing which they themselves have actually seen and positively 
known. They have treated the subject much more like pupils, 
detailing what they have learned in lessons from preceptors, than 
like masters, employing, as matter of argument, knowledge de- 
rived from the only true source of science, the Book of Nature. 

"Yellow fever has but just disappeared, the miasm productive of 
it having been destroyed, as it will always be, by the occurrence 
of cold weather. My wish, therefore, sir, is to hear from the 
gentlemen arguments in favor of its foreign origin, drawn from 
what they have learned by their recent intercourse with it, in the 
way of observation as men of science, and of experience as phy- 
sicians engaged in the treatment of it." 

This I knew would be gall and wormwood; because not a 
single individual who, as yet, had contended, in the present de- 
bate, that yellow fever was an imported complaint, had ever seen 
a case of it. They had all hurried into the country, on its first 
appearance in Philadelphia, and had now but just returned, to 
instruct the community, including those who had met it, con- 
tended with it, and studied it, in the mystery of its origin. 

By these remarks, the elderly gentleman, to whom I was reply- 
ing, was most poignantly stung; because he had been among the 
very first to ily into the country for safety from the pestilence, 
and to admonish all others, able conveniently to do so, to follow 
his example. In the irritation of the moment, therefore, and not 



188 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

knowing who I was, he said, with much more of ill temper, than 
of either dignity or discretion : " As the young man sets so high 
a value on knowledge gained by observation and experience, he 
had better, I think, give us a morsel of his own wisdom gained 
in that way about yellow fever, than find fault with others for not 
giving theirs." 

This was precisely what I wanted. It gave me an opening 
tantamount to an invitation, to enlarge on a brief statement of 
what I had witnessed in the City Hospital, which my paper read 
to the Society contained, but which had not been heard by the 
member and some of his partisans ; because the reading of it had 
been finished before their arrival. 

At the close of my remarks, Dr. Rush, who had passed the 
whole evening in the Society, and was now about to leave it, came 
immediately up to me, shook me cordially by the hand, and said, 
in an undertone: " Call and see me, as soon as convenient. I want 
to have a long talk with you: Good night." And he retired. 

It was now within a few minutes of the usual time of the ad- 
journment of the Society ; and a motion to adjourn was accord- 
ingly made. The motion was immediately opposed by myself, in 
consideration of my having engrossed nearly the whole of the 
evening, to the exclusion of almost everybody else from the floor. 
I therefore expressed a hope that the session of the Society would 
be protracted, that other members might be permitted to take 
part in the debate. On this, Dr. Wistar, who had attended the 
meeting, suggested that it might be better to continue the discus- 
sion throughout another evening, as such continuance might prove 
advantageous in a twofold way. It would afford to gentlemen, 
who might wish to participate in the debate, more leisure to pre- 
pare for the occasion, and more time for the full communication 
of their views. A motion was immediately made and carried, 
and the Society adjourned. 

By remarks which, in casual but earnest conversation among 
the members of the Society, reached my ear from various parts 
of the hall, I felt convinced that I had acquitted myself, in com- 
position and debate, in what was regarded in that place as a style 
and manner of unusual excellence. In the buoyancy of my hope, 
therefore, spiced perhaps with a sufficiency of conceit, I did not 
permit myself to doubt that, in some way, the display I had made 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 189 

that evening would prove advantageous to me. And it did so, 
more than a quarter of a eentury afterward, in a form and degree, 
that might be framed into an incident approaching romance. In 
exposition of the event, let it be remembered that I am now in 
my narrative of December, 1793. 

To the session of the Society of which I am speaking, a young 
gentleman about my own age, but not bred to medicine, had gone, 
by the invitation of a member, to hear the debate. And he, to 
use his own words, was " charmed with the paper I read, with 
my manner of reading and my masterly defence of it." Not long 
afterward he removed to Kentucky, settled in Lexington, and 
became in time a member of the Board of Trustees of Tran- 
sylvania University. In 1819, that Board resolved on the esta- 
blishment, in the University, of a Medical Department. To 
superintend the organization of that department, and aid in 
giving character to it, by becoming virtually the premier in its 
administration, I migrated, by special invitation, from Philadelphia 
to Lexington. And though I probably would have been invited 
without that gentleman's personal influence in my behalf, yet 
was he, of all the Board, the most earnest and ardent in urging 
the measure. When the subject was under consideration, he, 
with all the eloquence he could command, represented to the 
Board the scene he had witnessed in Philadelphia, in 1793, and 
declared that, from that evening, he had never abandoned the 
conviction that I was destined to become, at some place and 
period, " the founder and leader of a great school of medicine." 
And he warmly pressed on the Board to take measures to make 
Lexington the place, and the period the then existing year. 

During the remainder of that session of the school, nothing 
occurred in the form of an incident worthy to be recorded in the 
narrative I am composing. I pursued my studies with entire 
regularity and sufficient intensity, never being absent from the 
smallest portion of a single lecture, nor neglecting any other ac- 
cessible and useful source of information. In his repeated exami- 
nations of me, Dr. Rush, though he not unfrequently introduced 
into his lectures remarks on yellow fever, never put to me a 
question respecting its origin, knowing that my belief on that 
topic was identical with his own. Respecting its treatment, his 
interrogatories to me were frequent, one of his objects being to 



190 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

draw from me information as to the practice which had proved 
most successful in it at the City Hospital. In this proceeding, 
his special desire was to ascertain the effect of his two favorite 
remedies, bloodletting, and his ten and ten dose of calomel and 
jalap ; for he rarely put a question which had not some con- 
nection with his own popularity and reputation, no less than with 
the removal of disease. And in the desire referred to, it was 
my good fortune to be able to gratify him by an assurance, that 
the effect of his remedies, when judiciously administered, was 
highly salutary. 

Youns? men should never forget that education consists of 
three branches : to inform the mind ; to exercise it for the pur- 
poses of general activity and strength; and to frame and accommo- 
date its action to some given and particular object and end. To 
preserve also the health, power and competences of the body by 
temperance, exercise, and other suitable means, constitutes an 
indispensable element of education. 

In the first of these branches, I endeavored to accomplish 
myself by an attendance on lectures, by reading, and by reflec- 
tion ; in the second, by taking part in the debates of the Medical 
Society, and by writing during the winter for one of the public 
jirints, about every two weeks, an article on some medical subject, 
generally on yellow fever, and chiefly on the means of preventing 
its recurrence. Those articles were signed " Aretasus, Jr.," and 
were not long in attracting some notice, especially from the 
foreign originists (I being the reverse), who began to cavil at and 
attack my papers, which induced me occasionally to reciprocate 
their assaults, or at least to defend my sentiments against them. 
And it may not be altogether unworthy of remark, that in those 
articles was the introduction of the Schuylkill water into the city 
of Philadelphia first recommended. For, I believe myself correct 
in saying, that I was among the earliest, if not the earliest writer 
on that subject. True, I expressed the sentiments of Dr. Eush 
and Dr. Physick, as well as my own ; because I had frequently 
conversed with them, and probably also consulted them on the 
subject. But, while they employed only their tongues, I put in 
action my pen and the press ; and I need hardly add that our 
joint object was, the prevention of yellow fever, by the removal by 
currents of water from the streets and alleys, the filth from which 



191 

we believed it arose. This truth is not perhaps personally known 
to any individual now living, because I am the only surviving 
member of the party originally concerned in it. But it notwith- 
standing is a truth that L)r. Hush, Dr. Physick, and myself, while 
I was yet but a pupil, were jointly instrumental in first publicly 
proposing and urging the introduction of the Schuylkill water 
into the city of Philadelphia. "Whether the subject had been 
previously spoken of in private as a matter of domestic conve- 
nience, I know not; but it had never been publicly recommended 
and pressed as an important measure of medical police, to guard 
the city from the ravages of pestilence ; or from those of any other 
form of disease. 

Early in the progress of this session, it became obvious that 
the paper I had written, and the part I had acted in the subse- 
quent debate on yellow fever, had produced on some of the 
senior, and on perhaps all the junior members of the Medical 
Society, not only different, but opposite effects. The former class, 
the effort made by me had evidently galled and fretted, not so 
much perhaps by the matter and argument exhibited in it, as by 
something a little cavalier if not actually haughty, which was 
thought to have marked my manner of speaking, especially my 
occasional look and gesture — something of this sort, I say, either 
real or fancied, had rendered a number of the senior members of 
the Society unfriendly toward me, and inclined them to avail 
themselves, if practicable, of an opportunity to mortify me. But 
on that point I was prepared to set them at defiance. I knew 
myself too well, and felt too independent and proud, to be mor- 
tified by men whom I did not think in any respect above me, 
except in the number of years they had existed, of meals they 
had swallowed, and of other deeds of a similar cast it had been 
their fortune to perform. And my opinion on that subject I took 
no pains to conceal from them. 

On the junior members, on the contrary, who had taken no 
part in the late discussion, my effort in it had produced an effect 
so favorable as to induce them to regard me in the light of leader 
in most of the exercises of the Society. To such an extent was 
this feeling of preference carried, that not only was I expected to 
mingle in every debate that occurred, but to devise means to 
elicit debate, when, as was occasionally the case, the spirit of 



192 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

mental collision languished, or was entirely wanting in the other 
members. 

Though I was not actually vain of this distinction, because I 
expected it, and felt confident that by industry, energy, and per- 
severance, I could attain it, yet I attached to it some value, and 
determined to erect on it as high and enviable a reputation as I 
could. In other words, I was resolved fully to prove to my 
fellow members that I was not unworthy of the distinction they 
had conceded to me. And though I put in practice for that pur- 
pose a proceeding which some persons might be inclined to call 
a ruse, yet was it entirely free from deception. It was calculated 
to show me precisely as I was, in relation to my readiness and 
ability in discussion and debate. And that was the only end at 
which I aimed by it. A brief illustration will render it intel- 
ligible. 

The Society met once every week ; and its custom was to an- 
nounce, at each prior meeting, the subject designed for discussion 
at the succeeding one. And the annunciation was the last act of 
the evening. As I never took any concern in the common for- 
mulary business of the Society, I commenced and continued a 
custom of asking permission to retire as soon as the debate was 
finished. For that custom I had a twofold reason. I wished to 
leave the Society alone and return immediately to my study with- 
out wasting a single fragment of time, either in the street, or in 
idle chat with any pupil who might desire, uninvited, to make his 
way into my room. I also wished to be absent at the time of the 
annunciation of the topic for the next debate, that I might remain 
uninformed of it until the meeting of the Society at which it was 
to be discussed. And in both wishes I almost always succeeded; 
because I allowed no one to talk to me about the business of the 
Society during the course of the week. Four times at least out of 
every five, I entered the hall of the Society perfectly ignorant of 
the subject to be considered. And that this was the case was 
never doubted; because no one suspected me of the vice and 
meanness of any form of deception. 

Things being in this condition, when the paper propounding 
the topic designed for the chief exercise of the evening was read, 
if the discussion was immediately opened and spiritedly con- 
ducted, I kept my seat and took notes, until the debate began to 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 193 

flag, when I rose and either submitted a few remarks intended to 
revive and prolong it, or else delivered my speech for the evening 
and then took my leave. But in case, when the paper was read, 
the discussion did not commence with sufficient zeal and energy, 
I usually rose, and in order more highly to excite and animate 
some of the speakers, expressed with earnestness a few debatable 
and perhaps paradoxical opinions, and then resumed my seat, and 
allowed the debate to proceed, still watching and carefully noting 
the course and matter of it. And almost every evening, when 
the other members of the Society had put forth all they had to 
say, I closed the debate with an address of some extent, in which 
I summed up all the views and positions of moment that had been 
advanced during the evening, concurring in those I deemed cor- 
rect, further discussing those I considered as doubtful, and to such 
as I believed to be unsound stating my objections, accompanied 
by the facts on which they were founded. Having gone thus far 
I next, provided the subject called for it or admitted of it, offered 
a few practical observations embracing the tenor and principal 
bearings of the whole', and the professional uses which the matter 
of it might subserve, and then took my leave. 

In adopting and following this course, I had two leading ob- 
jects in view — to improve myself in promptness of comprehension 
and reply, in discussion and debate, to convince the members of 
the Society of the facility with which I could prepare myself for 
such exercises of mind and then perform them, and thus enhance 
in their estimation my standing and character. For I do not deny 
that on an elevated standing with the members of the Society, and. 
with all other persons to whom I was known, and with whom I 
held intercourse, I then set a corresponding value. And even 
now, when approaching the close of a long and eventful life, of 
not a little observation, experience, and study, my opinion re- 
specting it remains unchanged. When placed on a sound basis, 
and directed to proper purposes, a love of reputation is an honor- 
able and invaluable attribute. It is at once a safeguard from vice 
and dishonor, and an incentive to every description of duty. So 
true is this, that the man who possesses and duly esteems it, is 
anxious for its augmentation, and exerts his powers in such a 
course of action as he deems best calculated for the accomplish- 
ment of his purpose. And, if he be possessed of sound judgment, 
13 



194 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

that action is of a character beneficial to others, as well as praise- 
worthy in himself. Nor do I hesitate to acknowledge, that I had 
another favorite object in view — to produce and diffuse a belief 
in my fitness to become, in time, a professor of medicine. I say 
in time ; for I cherished no raw boyish ambition to become a 
public teacher before being well prepared for the station. 

The Medical School and the Medical Society have now both 
brought their annual sessions to a close : and, by intense and 
unremitting assiduity and labor, I have somewhat enhanced my 
reputation in both. And it is of great importance for young men 
to know (and practically conform to their knowledge on the sub- 
ject), that, all. things considered, the case could not be otherwise. 
By such means, reputation is always as unfailingly enhanced as 
any other effect is produced by its appropriate cause. And that 
I never afterward forfeited that reputation, is made manifest by 
the number of annual and other public addresses which I de- 
livered, in subsequent years, by appointment of the Society, and 
which that body uniformly committed to the press. Were a cor- 
rect computation on the subject made, I feel confident it would 
appear that I delivered, in the course of the next twelve or fif- 
teen years, a greater number of such discourses, the whole of 
which were published, than all the other members of the institu- 
tion united. Should I say twice the number, the statement would 
not, I believe, be extravagant. Nor can it be doubted that those 
public performances, being all by appointment, produced sundry 
effects highly favorable to me. By at once sustaining and diffus- 
ing my reputation, and making it further appear that I had a 
capacity and disposition to write and speak, and thus communi- 
cate knowledge, as well as to acquire it by perseverance in study, 
it cannot be doubted that they contributed materially to my being 
invited to the West, as a public teacher of medicine. Whatever 
of additional reputation, therefore, I may have acquired, or of 
good I may have done in the Mississippi Valley, is in no small 
degree attributable to my early performances, first as a pupil, and 
afterward as a youthful practitioner of medicine. So import- 
ant and practicable is it for men to lay, when young, the founda- 
tion of the success, usefulness, and distinction they are destined 
to attain by their subsequent labors. And unless they lay it by 
a youth of industry, and of efforts at the formation of virtuous 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 195 

and praiseworthy habits, it will remain forever unlaid, and the 
superstructure that should crown it forever unerected. 

I am now in the spring of 179-1, a year marked by the epochs 
of two events of some interest in the history of my life ; the com- 
mencement of my real authorship (I mean of my book-making), 
and of my brief military career. 

At that period, as far as I was then, or am now informed, there 
were, in the English language, not more than two or three works 
expressly on physiology; and they were exceedingly limited, and 
otherwise unimportant. Of these, one was a small and superficial 
volume, by Dr. Brooks (that, I think, was the author's name), pub- 
lished in the early part of the last century, a still smaller one by 
Dr. Cullen (a mere maimed, showing clearly that, illustrious as its 
author was in general renown, he deserved no reputation as a 
physiologist); and a very indifferent translation of an epitome, 
equally indifferent, of the great Latin work by Ilaller. At that 
time, Dr. Rush was professor of only the institutes of medicine, 
which include physiology as one of their elements. Ue had also 
published, for the use of his class, a syllabus of his lectures, which, 
as related to physiology, in particular, was a very meagre and 
insufficient production. In this miserable state of physiological 
barrenness, Dr. Rush (perceiving that I had a peculiarly strong 
attachment to that branch of science), first proposed to me to pre- 
pare and translate a eompend of /fullers Physiology, much larger 
and fuller than that which was then used in the schools and by 
the private teachers of the United States; and, eager to distin- 
guish myself as a scholar aud a writer on a scale more extensive 
than that on which I had previously acted, T lost no time in mak- / 
ing arrangements for the task. And the more usefully and com- 
pletely to attain my object, by the exercise of my own mind, I 
determined to accompany the translation with notes by myself, 
t hving, however, to a new and unexpected occurrence, this scheme 
was suddenly exchanged for another less laborious, and promising 
to be also equally useful — in some respects more useful. 

In an importation of books just received from London by Mr. 
Dobson, whose name has been already mentioned, was a cop} - in 
Latin of the first edition of BlumenbacKs Physiology. The 
volume was placed, by the importer, in the hand of Dr. Rush, 
who, holding an immediate interview with me, placed it in mine, 



196 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

and requested me to make a translation of it instead of a com- 
pend of Haller ; and to do so with as little delay as possible, to 
prevent an anticipation by a translation of it in London. 

I promptly agreed to engage in this enterprise, which, for a 
twofold reason, was peculiarly gratifying to me. It furnished 
me with an employment both respectable and useful to myself, as 
a mental exercise and a means of improvement in a favorite 
branch of study, and useful also to the medical public of my 
native country, and through them to the public at large, by ren- 
dering accessible to the former, in their own language, a source 
of important knowledge, which but a very moderate proportion 
of them, even at that time could reach through a learned lan- 
guage ; and it brought me, as I fancied, into conflict, as to accu- 
racy and rapidity of translation, with some Englishman. Who 
he might be I neither knew nor cared. 

No sooner had I completed my arrangement with Dr. Eush, 
who had promised to patronize the translation and publishing of 
BlummlacKs Physiology, by recommending it to the medical class, 
than I hastened to Mr. Dobson and made the volume my owu, 
that no other person, by a prior purchase, might throw obstacles 
in my way. My next step was, to engage Mr. Dobson to be my 
printer and publisher; and that compact being promptly con- 
cluded, in less than an hour from the time of my entrance on my 
negotiation with Dr. Eush, 1 was seated in my study, with 
BlumenbacKs Physiology open, on the table before me, and 
every other preparation made for the commencement of my 
enterprise. Still fresh in my memory, moreover, is the flush of 
' light and buoyant spirits I experienced, from the prospect of re- 
putation which my fancy depicted. I felt as if already within the 
vestibule of the temple of fame ; and I formed, if not in express 
and audible words, at least in an ardent and intense conception, 
a resolution scarcely short of a vow, to penetrate as far beyond it 
as possible, and ascend to some conspicuous niche in the mighty 
fabric to which it led. Such were the ardor and tone of my feel- 
ings, at that moment of high excitement and youthful ambition. 

Able as I was to translate classical and common Latin with 
great facility and sufficient accuracy, I regarded the task before 
me as little more than a somewhat protracted but pleasant 
amusement. A single glance, however, at the first section of the 



CITARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 197 

work, convinced me that I was mistaken. Not only was the 
style of the work unusually condensed and laconic, words being 
frequently omitted, the meaning of which must have a place in 
the translation, the idiom of it was entirely new to me. It was 
neither Italian Latin, French Latin, nor English Latin. Yet was 
it syntactical Latin, and altogether correct in concord and govern- 
ment. It was, as I ought to have been prepared to find it, real 
German Latin, a literal translation of which would make miser- 
able English. For it is and must be the case, that the natives of 
every nation speaking a language of their own, write Latin in tin- 
type and character of their native tongue. A literal translation 
of it, therefore, must be necessarily marked by the idiom of that 
tongue. And this is as true of the Latin of Blumcnbach, as of 
that of any other writer whose works I have examined. It is 
genuine, knotty, German Latin. And a literal translation of it 
would be German English. 

Under these circumstances, I was not long in settling my plan. 
Resolved to write in my mother-tongue and not to deal in patois, 
I determined to give, instead of a close translation, a free English 
interpretation, or semi-paraphrase of the original Latin. And that 
plan I executed, though I knew it to be a hazardous one. It laid 
me under a heavier obligation to become entirely master of the 
meaning of my text than I would have otherwise been. Had I 
given a literal translation, any obscurity, equivocality, or mistake, 
might be attributed to the original writer with as much probability 
of justice as to the translator. The reason is plain. Both the 
English ami Latin words and expressions could be seen, ex- 
amined, and compared with each other, and the correctness or 
incorrectness of the translation thus easily ascertained. But, in 
an interpretation or half paraphrase, the case is different. There 
the design is to disclose the true meaning and spirit of the com- 
position. And an acquaintance with them is to be acquired and 
made known, not by the meaning of single words or phrases, but 
by the obvious scope and tenor of sentences, paragraphs, or the 
entire production. Hence, though a large portion of my reputed 
translation is certainly a quasi translation, yet is perhaps a 
much larger portion a real interpretation, and nothing more. In 
preparing the latter, my practice was to study the original with 
the utmost attention and care, until fully satisfied of its precise 



198 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

meaning, and then, laying down the volume, to commit to paper 
my understanding of it in my own language, without paying any 
further regard to the Latin. Having in this way expressed my 
conception of the meaning of a few pages, I again examined the 
original, compared it critically with my interpretation, and acted 
accordingly, altering or not, as circumstances required. And I 
feel persuaded now, as I did then, that if any discrepancies in 
meaning between the interpretation and the text exist, they are 
very few, and of no moment. 

The first edition of BlumenhacKs Physiology (that which I 
translated) was published more than half a century ago ; and I 
lay claim of course to no merit on account of the matter it con- 
tains. Yet do I say, without hesitation or dread of being refuted, 
that that matter, antiquated as it may be deemed, constitutes the 
basis of many of the most substantial and lasting doctrines in 
physiology that have been since recorded by writers or taught 
by professors, or that are in any way inculcated at the present 
day. And let me hope to be indulged in adding that, whether 
they be, in matter, correct or incorrect, the notes which I affixed 
to my translation, though but limited in extent, contain the 
elements of certain opinions which I then broached and believed, 
and which I continue to teach and believe at the present period. 

Several years after the translation of the first edition of Profes- 
sor BlumenbacKs Physiology by myself, a second and a third 
edition were issued in Gottingen, under the supervision of its 
author, and one of them translated by Dr. Elliotson, of London. 
Such has been the popularity of that work (Elliotson's translation) 
that it has passed to the fifth, I know, and I believe to the sixth 
or seventh edition. And so great and varied is the amount of 
matter added to it by Dr. Elliotson (some of Professor Blumen- 
bach's being omitted) that the former very distinguished gentle- 
man now affixes to it his own name, and is regarded as its author, 
instead of its editor. Nor has he, I think, acted improperly in 
doing so, especially as he frankly acknowledged the extensive 
and important aid received by him from the illustrious German. 
The adscititious matter, moreover, supplied by Elliotson is much 
more abundant than the remainder of the nucleus furnished by 
Blumenbach. 

It may not, perhaps, be either inadmissible, or altogether with- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 199 

out interest for me to mention here the similarity of incidents 
that have marked the lives and labors of Dr. Elliotson and my- 
self. I first, when a student of medicine, introduced the know- 
ledge of BlumenbacKa Physiology into the United States; he 
first, when a young physician, introduced it into Great Britain, 
lie, first of Englishmen, introduced into Great Britain the study 
of phrenology ; I first introduced it into the United States. He 
first introduced into Great Britain the study and practice of mes- 
merism; I first introduced them, if not into the United States, 
certainly into the Mississippi Valley. I first, as I believe, in the 
United States, am now repeating some of the Baron Von Riech- 
cnbach's experiments in his Researches on Magnetism, including a 
supposed "New Imponderable" — and without knowing it to be a 
fact, I venture to predict that he will be the first to repeat them 
in Great Britain. 

When I commenced the translation of Blumenbach, I was 
engaged in attending a second course of lectures on Botany and 
Natural History, and in other studies which I was unwilling to 
relinquish. I therefore prepared myself for a summer of very 
arduous and incessant labor. On completing the partition of my 
time, and appropriating its divisions to particular pursuits, I 
found that I had apportioned but four hours and a half, or at 
furthest five hours to eating, sleeping, and corporeal exercise. 
On a close reinspection of this scheme, I became apprehensive 
that my allotment of time to bodily exercise was too scanty. But 
I found it impossible to remedy the evil except by an abridgment 
of the time set apart for other purposes, which were deemed more 
important — at least for the present. To work, therefore, I went, 
strenuously exercising my mind on various subjects from nine- 
teen hours to nineteen and a half out of every twenty-four. This 
severe course of study I commenced in March, 1794, and con- 
tinued it without interruption or faltering, until September (about 
six mouths), when my translation was finished, and my health 
enfeebled, though not actually broken. Fortunately for me, at 
that period an event of magnitude and notoriety occurred, I acting 
a part iu it, which completely restored and reinvigorated my 
health, and bestowed on me other benefits which shall be hereafter 
recorded. 



200 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

Before closing this chapter, a few remarks on the plan adopted 
and the means employed to sustain me during the performance of 
my arduous task, may not be altogether uninteresting or use- 
less. My diet, always thoroughly cooked, and taken three times 
a day, was, in quantity, about one third less than usual; and, with 
the exception of a very small portion of butter, and a moderate 
one of milk, it was derived entirely from the vegetable kingdom. 
My drink was exclusively water and strong coffee. Of the latter 
I drank copiously for a twofold purpose — to render me wakeful, 
an effect it was said to produce, and to act as a cordial, keeping 
my mind in a state of elastic activity. My only exercise, besides 
that of walking to and from the lectures I attended, was derived 
from a resort to swordsmanship, a manly accomplishment to which 
I was greatly attached, and the practice of which, when only 
moderate and playful, calls into refreshing and salutary action 
every muscle of the body. But I was strictly cautious never, by 
excessive exercise, to induce fatigue. The amount of time I de- 
voted to sleep was from three hours to three and a half — and the 
period from half past one to five o'clock A. M. And during that 
space my sleep was dreamless and profound. To such an extent 
was this the case that I believed then, and still believe, that I 
experienced in the sleeping portion of my system (my brain and 
nerves) a higher degree of sound and renovating repose, than 
does the dronish, time-wasting dozer in seven hours. When I 
retired to my couch, moreover, my business was to sleep — not to 
" skim the sky," or " build castles in the air." Hence no sooner 
was my head on my pillow, than my eyes were closed, and con- 
sciousness was gone. And I awoke, at my customary hour, with 
the regularity of time. Such a command of himself every student 
ought to attain ; and he can do so, to no inconsiderable extent, 
if his attempt to that effect be judicious and persevering. One 
important element of success in the attempt is, that he who 
makes it never allow himself to be spoken to, after he has re- 
tired to bed, and another, that he leave his bed the moment he 
awakes. 

My first employment in the morning, was the inspection and 
correction of my translation of the preceding day. My next, to 
devote three hours to further translation, and then to pursue and 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 201 

accomplish my other studies and engagements in a pre-arranged 
routine, which was never departed from, except in obedience to 
some cause that could not be resisted. 

These diversified studies, and their effects on me, of which I 
was both conscious and observant, had, not improbably, some 
influence in preparing my mind, in years far subsequent, for my 
prompt understanding and immediate adoption of the doctrines 
of phrenology. One of the fundamental principles of that science 
is, that the human brain is a multiplex viscus. In more explicit 
terms ; that it is a compound organ consisting of an aggregation 
of subordinate ones, each of which performs a function peculiar 
to itself, and which of course, no organ but itself can perform. 
To this may be added another principle equally valid. Every 
organ or subordinate portion of the brain is, like a muscle, sus- 
ceptible of fatigue and exhaustion by exercise, excessive in force, 
or too long continued. 

In illustration and proof of the truth of these principles, I have 
often, after intense application, for a time, to some intricate topic 
of study, experienced such a degree of mental (correctly cerebral) 
languor and comparative obtuseness, as to be unable any longer 
to persevere in it with either satisfaction or benefit. But no 
sooner did I relinquish it, and apply my mind to the study of 
another topic, different in character though equally abstruse, than 
all lassitude and dulness disappeared, and left my spirits elastic, 
and my intellect unclouded. 

Oil my first acquaintance with Gall and Spurzheim in Paris, 
holding conversations with them, and listening to their lectures, 
these occurrences were vividly remembered by me. Xor did I 
fail to perceive, that they testified conclusively to the multiplex 
character of the human brain. They convinced me, that, when 
studying one subject, I was exercising one given portion of my 
brain; and that it, from labor, incurred fatigue; and that when 
I changed even immediately to the study of another of a different 
character, I did so by the employment of a different organ, or 
set of organs, free from fatigue, because none of them had been 
previously engaged in action. So true is it, and so important to 
be known, that, when the temple of science shall have been com- 
pleted, every fact will occupy a place, in some compartment of the 



202 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OP 

glorious fabric. Improvement in knowledge, therefore, consists 
in a progressive acquaintance with new objects and facts, or with 
old ones not previously known to the inquirer ; and by the 
classification of objects, and the correct interpretation of facts, and 
their application to their proper uses, knowledge is converted 
into science. 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 203 



CHAPTER VI. 

Military Campaign — Washington — Hamilton — Gen. G — r — y — -An adventure — Am 
appointed surgeon to a brigade — A long walk — A fever cured by rain — Letter to 
Rusb — Theses — Military banquet — A lady — Her influence. 

To those who are acquainted with the history of the State of 
Pennsylvania, it is known that, in the western part of it, espe- 
cially in that portion of it west of the Alleghanies, an immense 
quantity of ardent spirits (whiskey) was distilled, toward the 
close of the last century, from the abundant crops of wheat, rye, 
and corn which grew in that region, and could not be profitably 
converted into flour and conveyed to a market. It is also known 
that, during the Presidency of General Washington, Congress im- 
posed on that liquor an excise, so unacceptable to the inhabitants 
of the tract of country where it was distilled, that they opposed it 
with such obstinacy, and to such an extent, as to prevent it from 
being collected. In attempting to enforce its collection, some of 
the excise officers, if my memory fail me not, lost their lives. 
Whether correct in this allegation or not, I am in stating, that the 
opposition to the excise ripened into a rebellion, to quell which, 
and to do the work effectually, the Federal Executive deemed it 
necessary to make an appeal to arms, and to call out from Penn- 
sylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia, an army of fifteen thousand 
men. This military body, consisting of a materiel of soldiery 
equal to any that Christendom could furnish, was commanded by 
veteran officers, who had seen much service, and acquitted them- 
selves honorably in the war of the Revolution. The Virginia 
quota of troops was commanded by the celebrated Harry Lee, 
Governor of that State at the time, who was to hold the chief 
command when the two wings of the army should be united; the 
Pennsylvania quota by Governor Mifflin, who was to be second 
in command; and the New Jersey quota by General Bloomfield, 
subsequently Governor of that State. Each of those commanders 
singly had reputation sufficient to give character to an army ; 



204 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OP 

while the three united could hardly fail, if not to treble the effect, 
materially to augment it. For, independently of other considera- 
tions, union alone gives strength and reputation. 

To render the spectacle, however, more august and imposing, 
and to give to the movement the greatest possible influence and 
efficiency, General Washington in person led to Bedford, at the 
foot of the Alleghany Mountain, the right wing of the army, com- 
posed of the troops from New Jersey and Pennsylvania. To that 
place, from which he returned to Philadelphia to meet Congress 
about to assemble there, he was accompanied by General Hamil- 
ton, then Secretary of the Treasury. And to him, though clothed 
in no military commission, but being the man in whom "Wash- 
ington most fully confided, was the rule of the whole army 
virtually intrusted during the remainder of the campaign. In 
addition to the presence of Washington and Hamilton, and of the 
three distinguished commanders already named, a large number 
of other officers, who had won celebrity in the Revolutionary 
War, had sought and obtained commissions in the army. For in 
a military enterprise, however limited, where Washington was to 
lead for even but a day, every soldier of the Revolution deemed 
it a high privilege to be eugaged. 

These things I mention to show that the campaign of 1794, in 
Western Pennsylvania, familiarly called the " Whiskey Campaign," 
was not a spectacle of mere pomp and pageantry, as some of the 
anti-federalists proclaimed it, designed only to give a tinsel lustre 
to the administration, and augment the power of the Federal party. 
It was a measure called for by sound polic} r and enlightened 
patriotism. It was a manifestation by the Government, then in 
its infancy, essential not merely to its temporary convenience and 
well-being, but to its very existence. It was an effort devised by 
the wisdom of Washington, his associates and counsellors, some 
of the most highly gifted, far-seeing, aud virtuous men of the 
day. And its object was to demonstrate, not only to the citizens 
of the United States, but to an observant world, that the Federal 
Government, though but just erected, was something more than 
a name. That it was a well organized, substantial, and induring 
incorporation of strength and energy, rooted in the immutable 
affections of a nation, and protected by the bold and vigorous 
arms of half a million of freemen, ready, when requisite, to strike 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 205 

in its behalf; and that no disaffected combination of partisans 
within its limits, and enjoying the privileges and benefits con- 
ferred by it, would be permitted with impunity to insult and mal- 
treat its officers, and set its laws at defiance. And all this it 
promptly and successfully accomplished, and gave to its founders 
and friends, in common with all civilized and enlightend nations, 
a proof of the power, and a pledge of the stability, of the Govern- 
ment of the Union, which, without such an effort and triumphant 
issue, they could not have received. 

To a young man of a southern constitution, an ardent tempera- 
ment, an imagination neither tame nor uncreative, and a general 
cast of mind sufficiently awake to enterprise and romance, the 
occasion was inviting. And to such characteristics of a soldier I 
was not an entire stranger. I had just, moreover, finished my 
translation of Blumenbach; and was somewhat mentally fatigued 
and personally debilitated by intense and long-continued applica- 
tion to study. In this toil-worn condition, but my spirit and 
energy unbroken, I might now command a little leisure if I chose 
to do so; and I felt, as I fancied, more need than I had ever done 
previously, of muscular action and country air. In truth, I 
wanted some plea that might serve as an excuse to myself for 
discontinuing for a time my course of study, a step I had almost 
vowed never to perpetrate until my achievement of some profes- 
sional distinction, and join the expedition. But my pride, or 
something else forbade me to enrol myself as a private soldier. 
And, with a single exception, I was an entire stranger to every 
one empowered to give promotion. That exception, however, 
was as powerful as it was illustrious. It was Washixgtox, 
whose escort I had commanded two years previously in North 
Carolina. And though I had not seen him since my arrival in 
Philadelphia, except in the street at some distance, and perhaps 
on horseback, I notwithstanding believed that I could easily 
effect a recognition by him, and probably procure from him a 
suitable appointment. 

But I learned, much to my regret, that General Washington 
was so much solicited and pressed by and in behalf of men much 
older and more experienced than myself, many of whom had 
served under his eye in the Kevolutionan' War, and had, therefore, 



206 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OP 

claims to office much stronger than I had, that I deemed it inex- 
pedient, and perhaps indelicate to approach him on the subject. 

Meantime, however, no favorable opening nor any encouraging 
prospect of one in that quarter presenting itself, a little incident 
occurred in another, which produced in a few days an unexpected 
proposal, not perhaps in any high degree personally flattering, 
yet so far connected with professional standing and substantial 
interest as not to be lightly thought of or rejected. 

As I was passing on an afternoon by the dwelling of General 
G — r — y, who had been appointed to the command of the Brigade 
of Philadelphia City and County Volunteers, in the approaching 
campaign, Mrs. G — r— y and her daughter, the latter about nine 
or ten years old, had just seated themselves in a carriage to take 
an airing ; the clumsy black coachman had fastened the carriage 
door, and was himself climbing to his seat on the box. Under these 
circumstances, the horses being frightened, and dashing off with 
the carriage, pitching the coachman violently from his lofty posi- 
tion and jerking the reins from his hand, were immediately in 
full and fearful gallop along the street. Being perhaps twenty 
paces in front of the horses when they started, as they passed by 
me in their wild career, I seized the reins, which were now 
rather sailing in the air than dragged along the street, and, in- 
stead of attempting to stop the horses, which I perceived to be 
impossible, I determined to run along side of them, keeping at a 
distance sufficient to secure me from collision with either them or 
the carriage, and thus endeavor to guide and, as far as possible, 
restrain their speed. Being sufficiently swift of foot, I found no 
difficulty in doing this; and I fancied the lady, seeming to derive 
confidence from my management, kept her seat in calmness and 
silence. Fortunately, at the distance of perhaps two hundred 
paces from where the horses had started, I observed that, for the 
purpose of discharging some lading into a store, a wagon and 
team were so arranged slantingly across the street, as in no small 
degree to obstruct the passage of it. That barrier presented our 
only discoverable place of safety — and yet it was by no means a 
certain one. Should the horses, still moving with no little speed, 
though somewhat checked by the restraint of the reins, on which 
I bore with as much force as I deemed secure, come with a sud- 
den and severe shock against the wagon-horses in their still 



207 

position, it was obvious that confusion and disaster must ensue. 
I therefore so managed the reins as to bring the heads of the 
carriage-horses against the wagon, the sight of which, before they 
struck it, had considerably abated their speed. Still, however, 
the collision with it was so forcible that one of them fell. And 
there our race terminated, without the slightest injury to Mrs. 
G — r — y or her daughter; and immediately a dozen of hands 
were ungearing the horses. 

My business, however, was with the lady and child — and I was 
instantly at the carriage door. No sooner had I handed down 
Mrs. G — r — y aud her daughter, than she exclaimed, with great 
earnestness: — 

"Pray, sir, are you hurt?" 

My reply she never forgot, and often reminded me of it — 
"lleally, madam, I have yet had no time to think of myself. My 
only care has been for the safety of you and your daughter. Tell 
me, I entreat you, that you are both uninjured; aud then I shall 
inquire into my own case." 

" We are, sir, we are. For God's sake, tell me whether you 
are hurt or not!" 

"Not in the least, madam, I assure you. Indeed, /have been 
in no danger. The danger has been all your own. I have only 
had a short foot-race; and I am too much accustomed to that to 
be easily injured by it. But I fear one of the horses is hurt. If 
you will permit, for a moment, I will inquire." 

"Never mind the horse," said she, putting her arm in mine; 
"there are people enough about him to do whatever is necessary 
for him. Come home with me and rest yourself after your 'foot- 
race,' as you call it." 

With that, leaning on my arm and leading her little daughter, 
she directed her steps towards her dwelling. We had advanced 
but a few paces, when we were met by her household, the general 
himself being foremost. Disengaging her arm from mine, she 
presented me to him as one who, she was pleased to say, had 
saved their lives at the risk of his own. The general eyed me 
intensely, and with much seeming interest and affection, but 
without uttering a word, then shook my hand with great cordial- 
ity, and thus we moved in silence to the door. 

Wheu we had reached it, without entering or pausing for a 



208 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

moment, I bade the little girl good-by, and, lifting my bat, I 
extended my band to take leave also of Mrs. G — r — y, when the 
general found words to prevent me. 

"Stop, stop, sir," said he, in a tone and manner which, though 
rough and blunt, bad deeply and significantly impressed on them 
the seal of sincerity and kindness — "stop, sir; you are not 
going to escape us in this way. We must know more about you 
before we let you off. Come in and sit down, sir, and take a glass 
of wine. But tell us first who it is we are so deeply indebted 
to." 

As yet even my name was unknown to the family. 

" Why, sir," said I, still standing with my bat now under my 
arm, " as I presume you allude to the little aid I gave in stop- 
ping the unwelcome career of your horses, the information you 
ask for can be given in a moment. I can tell you both who per- 
formed the trifling service, and bow the debt you think it has 
imposed on you may best be discharged." 

" That," replied the general, " is the very thing I wish to 
know." 

I then announced my name, and added, " As respects the debt, 
which you fancy to be due from you, on account of my slight 
agency in the matter, that, as far as I am concerned in it, will be 
most satisfactorily settled, by your saying no more about it." 

Thus began my acquaintance with Gen. G — r — y, which subse- 
quently ripened into friendship, and which continued uninterrupt- 
edly to the end of that gentleman's life. Its immediate advan- 
tage to myself was, that, on learning my earnest desire to take 
part in the ensuing campaign, by the general's desire and influence 
I was soon after appointed surgeon to his brigade, with a horse 
and servant, and a mate to assist me. 

On announcing to me this welcome intelligence, Gen. G — r — y 
said : "Your commission shall be made out to-day — and the troops 
will move early next week. Make your arrangements, therefore, 
for yourself and your department with all possible dispatch." 

" One question, sir, before I leave you. Who is to be my 
mate ?" 

"True; well thought of. I had forgotten that matter. Can 
you recommend any one that will suit you ?" 

" I can, sir, if so privileged." 



209 

"Name him." 

"Mr. JohnB— 1— s." 

"Very well, sir, his commission shall be made out at the same 
time with your own. Now go to your work, and I will go to 
mine." 

" Pray, sir, where shall I procure my medicines and instru- 
ments?" 

" Wherever you please ; wherever, I mean, you can get them 
of the best quality, and on the best terms; the place, I am sure, 
which you will yourself select." 

And thus wc parted. 

In less than an hour I had myself in person commenced in ear- 
nest the work of preparation, and had issued the necessary orders 
to my mate. And by his active and indefatigable industry, aided 
in a few particulars by an old army surgeon who was in Phila- 
delphia at the time, my medicine chest, box of surgical instru- 
ments, and hospital stores — the most complete and excellent the 
city could furnish, and far the most valuable the right wing of 
the army subsequently contained — were all in readiness to be 
forwarded with the troops. But my personal and camp equip- 
ments were not. With a view to their preparation, therefore, I 
obtained leave of absence for four days, with strict orders to report 
myself at my post on the evening of the fourth. 

Bent, however, on exceeding, in the discharge of my duty, all 
that could be reasonably expected of me, I determine!, if possible, 
to anticipate my orders. By active and unremitting exertions, 
therefore, on my own part, and a little extra pay to those in my 
employ, everything was in readiness by the evening of the second 
day, except my horse. He was not yet purchased. Nor was 
this the darkest point of the evil. 1 found it convenient, or rather 
necessary, not lo purchase at that time aDd place, the price of such 
a charger as would alone suit me being very exorbitant, and my 
funds being too far expended by the inordinate and needless cost 
of my other rich and ornamental preparations. I therefore de- 
termined to set out at six o'clock the following morning, and 
report myself, in the evening of the same day, to my commanding 
officer who was to be encamped at Downington, thirty-two miles 
from Philadelphia, on the road leading to Lancaster, Harrisburg, 
and Carlisle ; that being the route which the army was ordered to 
14 



210 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF - 

pursue. But here an obstacle occurred which threatened to defeat 
my determination to anticipate my orders. The baggage-wagon, 
which had been left behind to convey certain articles to Gen. 
G — r — y and his field officers, together with my clothing and 
camp equipage, had, by some extraordinary oversight, failed to 
be in readiness. I therefore hired a light Jersey wagon, with two 
excellent road horses, placed in it all my own baggage and camp 
equipage, and some packages for the general, and, promising the 
driver extra wages, conditioned that my marquee should be 
pitched on the encampment-ground by or before dark, saw him 
under way at five o'clock in the morning. By six, I had finished 
my breakfast, and, my mate accompanying me, set out on foot 
for Downington, having told my wagoner, by way of urging him 
on, that, unless he should travel with unusual rapidity, I would 
overtake him, and have a drive in his wagon, before the end of 
his day's journey. At this, however, the Jerseyman laughed, 
and cracked his whip in form of defiance. But what was only a 
banter in words, was near being a fact in performance. Within 
about six or eight miles of Downington, as the wagon was as- 
cending one hill, I reached the top of another about half a mile 
in its rear. And had not the driver discovered and recognized 
me, and plied his whip with more effect than he had previously 
done, I should have overtaken him. But, resolved not to be both 
bantered and beaten, he soon shot ahead of me, reached camp 
about half an hour before me, and announced my approach. De- 
termined, moreover, not to lose his extra wages, he made his way 
to the quarter-master, told him that I had requested him to have 
my marquee erected with as little delay as possible, in order that 
I might take some rest in it, after my fatiguing day's march. At 
this little fabrication by the wagoner, I was not displeased, espe- 
cially as it somewhat expedited my actual possession of a camp 
residence. I therefore cheerfully paid him his extra wages, and 
dismissed him in good humor. 

My first act, however, on reaching camp, was to repair imme- 
diately to Gen. G — r — y's marquee, and report myself without, in a 
note sent in to him by his orderly in waiting, accompanied by a 
letter which I bore to him from his wife. My invitation to enter 
the soldier's quarters was prompt, and the reception I experienced 
warm, cordial, and sincere, as best becomes a soldier and a man. 



CIIAKLES CALDWELL, M. D. 211 

The general and his aid had not yet finished their dinner, and I 
of course partook of the meal. 

One of the first questions put to me by the general -was, "At 
what time, sir, did you last see my family?" 

" I took leave of Mrs. G — r — y, sir, and had a kiss from Jane, at 
ten o'clock last night." 

"And have you travelled all night?" 

"No, sir, I slept all night, and have only travelled since 
morning." 

"Then you must have changed your mind and purchased a 
horse — and you have pushed him severely, and probably injured 
him by making him. perform such a journey the first day. You 
have ridden him two and thirty long miles, some of them over a 
rOugh and hilly road; and it is now (examining his watch) but 
a few minutes past three. I must tame you youngsters a little 
(looking at his aid and myself), or you will soon tame your high- 
mettled chargers." 

"General," I replied, "I know some little about a horse. The 
first thing that fails, when he is overworked, is his appetite. 
Judge, therefore, for yourself of the condition of my horse. You 
see him before you. Does this plate (pointing to that before me) 
testify to any failure in his appetite?" 

" Why, you do not surely mean to say that you have walked 
from Philadelphia to this place since morning?" 

"I do, indeed, sir ; I left Philadelphia on foot, at six o'clock this 
morning; since which time I have touched neither horse nor car- 
riage, and here I am now as undamaged as when I started." 

" Was not your mate to accompany yon?" 

"lie was, and did, sir; but he is no backwoodsman, as I have 
already told you I am ; and he has not borne the excursion quite 
so wen." 

"Where is he?" 

"By this time taking breath, and perhaps asleep in my marquee, 
which was nearly erected at the time of my arrival. He would 
have waited on you in company with me, and reported himself in 
person, had he been less fatigued. He begged me to do so in his 
behalf, and to ask you to excuse him until he shall be a little 
recruited, when he will lose no time in doing his duty." 

" Oh ! sir, his duty at present is to take care of himself — and you 



212 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

will be so good as to keep an eye on him, and see that he wants 
for nothing; and as soon as I have leisure, I will see him." 

In the morning, however, I found Mr. B — 1 — s really sick, and 
unable to travel either on foot or on horseback; I procured for 
him, therefore, the best accommodation that could be made in 
our least crowded baggage-wagon, the only sort of carriage for 
the sick that our equipage afforded. Nor was I perfectly free 
from indisposition myself. Though I was not stiff, as the gene- 
ral had predicted, and showed, therefore, nothing of derangement 
or inability in my movements, yet was I flushed and slightly fever- 
ish. The general, when I tendered to him my morning salute, 
far from perceiving in me any sign of disease, even gayly ob- 
served "that my complexion showed my health to be rather 
improved than injured by my journey of the preceding day" — a 
circumstance which gratified me not a little; for I was very un- 
willing to have him apprised of my indisposition. His aid, how- 
ever, whose eyes were younger, was more accurate in his obser- 
vation. Coming up to me, and taking me by the hand, he said 
kindly: "Sir, your fatigue of yesterday was quite too severe. It 
tells on 3 r ou. You are unwell, and to me must not deny it. You 
are desirous, I perceive, to conceal your indisposition from Gene- 
ral G — r — y ; and so am I — for he would rather have the whole 
brigade sick than you. The morning is pleasant and the road 
good ; and I would rather walk in company with some of the 
young officers than not. To avoid further fatigue, therefore, 
mount my horse and ride ahead, and I will arrange all matters 
with the general about your disappearance. We shall halt, and 
probably encamp for the night about ten or twelve miles in 
advance of this, at a beautiful little stream of water, near a large 
white house, by which you will easily know the place. Do not 
let me see you again until we meet there." 

Perceiving, by something in my countenance or manner, my 
unwillingness to accept his well-meant proposal, he anticipated 
my words, and proceeded in his advice: "Do not, I entreat you, 
sir, refuse my request. What I ask of you is the best thing you 
can do. I will see that Mr. B — 1 — s, your mate, shall be furnished 
with everything he needs. Here is my horse: take the bridle, 
sir; mount and be off, before the road becomes crowded by the 
troops." 



M.D. 213 

Without remonstrance or further delay, I followed my friend's 
advice, which appeared to be judicious, and in a few minutes, the 
noise and dust of the army were far in my rear. 

In less than an hour, an event occurred which, though trivial 
in its nature, was of no little importance in its effect on me at a 
subsequent period; because it proved the source of my first seri- 
ous misunderstanding with Dr. Eush. 

Though the morning had been clear and exceedingly pleasant, 
a cloud was suddenly formed, which poured on me a copious 
shower of rain, and wet me thoroughly, in a part of the road 
where I could procure no shelter from it. Of that complete soak- 
ing the effect was precisely the reverse of what I dreaded. While 
my apprehension was, that the wetting received would greatly 
augment the slight fever I labored under, it entirely extinguished 
it, and reinstated me in health as perfect as I had ever enjoyed. 
It proved a perfect hydropathic cure. 

To me, the event was fraught with a threefold delight. M\ 
health and efficiency were restored ; I had learned a new fact ; 
and that fact I had myself discovered; for I had never previously 
witnessed, read, or heard of such an effect from such a cause. 

On the arrival of the troops, I had the gratification to find Mr. 
B — 1 — s much more comfortable thau he was when I left him. His 
soreness and fever had considerably abated; and in a day or two 
more, he was perfectly well. Another circumstance, moreover, 
exceedingly gratifying to me, was, that, owing to his numerous 
official engagements, General G — r — y had not noticed my absence 
from the brigade. He remained, therefore, uninformed of my 
indisposition. 

Within two days from this time, we arrived in Lancaster, 
where we lay encamped for about a week, during which two or 
three incidents occurred worthy, perhaps, of a brief recital. 

The employment of my first leisure hour, after my arrival in 
Lancaster, was to address to Dr. Eush a letter containing a full 
and accurate account of the production of a febrile affection in 
me, by a severe journey of thirty-two miles in nine hours on 
foot; and its speedy and entire removal by a drenching, on 
horseback, by a copious fall of rain. I also offered a few remarks 
in exposition of the mode of action of the remedy. And, in my 
attempted solution of the phenomenon, I referred it entirely to 



214 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

the influence of sympathy. And I still believe my reference to 
have been correct. Without meaning to assign at present the 
reasons of my opinion, it is impossible for me to doubt that, in 
the cure of all diseases, s} r mpathy is the ground on which the 
remedies principally act. On that I am convinced that they at 
least commence their action, though they may subsequently call 
to their aid other forms of agency. Having been, for more than 
half a century, therefore, an inflexible advocate of the doctrine 
that sympathy takes the highest concern in both the production 
and cure of disease, as well as in the preservation of health, and 
having examined and analyzed all the means that have been em- 
ployed for its demolition, without being able to perceive their 
• validity — under such circumstances, it is neither surprising that 
my attachment to it is strong, nor probable that any new plea 
can be urged which will induce me to surrender it. 

The fact of the curability of fever by a thorough wetting in 
rain, or by immersion in water, was, in his next course of lec- 
tures, mentioned by Dr. Eush, for the first time; but no refer- 
ence, in connection with it, was made to me, or my letter. And, 
in the next subsequent course, the act was repeated. 

In the following year, 1796, I took my degree in medicine, 
and, in my Inaugural Dissertation, inserted the case of my having 
been cured of fever by a shower of rain; that I had, in a letter, 
communicated the fact to Dr. Rush; and that he had introduced 
it into two of his courses of lectures, entirely apart from my 
name — though he had acknowledged to myself, in private con- 
versation, that he had first received the information from me. 

That the introduction of this statement into my thesis was an 
act of indiscretion may be true. But, to say the least of it, the 
fact disclosed was equally true. But, authentic as it was, the act 
gave offence to Dr. Bush (the deeper very probably on account 
of its authenticity), and placed in my way some difficulty at the 
time of my graduation. To that, however, a more detailed refer- 
ence will be hereafter made. 

On the following day we reached Carlisle, where it was ordered 
we should encamp until that wing of the army should be reviewed 
by General Washington, and placed under the stern discipline of 
regular troops. 

It was at that place I first saw Alexander Hamilton, who ac- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, 51. D. 215 

companicd Washington, then President of the United States, with 
the authority, but not with the title of Lieutenant General. And 
a few days after the arrival of the troops, an event occurred, not 
necessary to be here recorded, which brought me into close con- 
tact with him, and drew from him very nattering and grateful 
civilities to me. 

It was here, in company with Gen. Hamilton, and under his 
auspices, that 1 enjoyed the honor of a second gratifying inter- 
view with Gen. Washington. And at the quarters of the former 
distinguished gentleman I was made personally known to a num- 
ber of the chief officers of the army, to whom I had not been pre- 
viously introduced. 

In a few days afterward, the President having first reviewed it 
in person, the army commenced its march to the mountains. 

Having lain at Carlisle until the right wing of the army, which 
we formed, was complete in number, amounting to seven thou- 
sand five hundred rank and file, we moved to the west, and en- 
camped on tlir second night at the base of the mountains that lie 
eastward from the Alleghany. Having been born and reared in 
a champaign country, 1 had never previously beheld ground more 
elevated than hill-tops. But now a chain of cloud-piercing moun- 
tains lay immediately before me, forming a landscape not only 
novel, but beautiful and sublime. And, to heighten its beauty 
to that of one of nature's most enchanting pictures, the immense 
forest that covered it was clad in its rich and variegated garni- 
ture of autumn. Nor can those who are entire strangers to land- 
scapes of the kind, even conceive of the witchery of attractiveness 
it possessed. 

To me the Boene was bo replete with enchantment, and so deeply 
did it imprint itself on the tablet of my memory, that not only has 
the lapse of more than half a century been insufficient entirely to 
efface the picture; it has scarcely dimmed the original freshness. 
So intense was my anticipated pleasure of plunging into the midst 
of it on the following day, that I passed the night almost a stranger 
to sleep. And even in the light slumbers which occasionally de- 
scended on me, the purple, gold, and crimson array of the adjacent 
mountain, and the blue of the remote ones furnished the material 
of delightful visions. 

Having obtained from my kind and indulgent commander the 



216 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

control of my time during the following day, I set out early in 
the morning, suitably clad, and equipped with my side-arms, deter- 
mined to traverse the mountains alone, in advance of the 'troops, 
and to ascend the loftiest summits that bordered on the road. 
And this I did by a day's march, which acquired for me, whether 
deservedly or not, the reputation of the best footman belonging 
to the army. And the feat, whether imitable or otherwise, was 
extremely arduous. It was a passage over the mountains, the 
distance by the road being thirty miles or more, and including, 
in addition to this, visits to five or six precipitous rock-covered 
pinnacles, each of them towering at a considerable distance from 
the direct route. The computation was, that I walked about forty 
miles over ground as rugged and intractable as any afforded by 
a region of mountains, rocks, precipices, and ravines. Nor, not- 
withstanding the toils I had sustained during the day, was it my 
good fortune to pass the succeeding night in the arms of repose. 
For this there were several reasons. The fervor of my excite- 
ment was but little abated; the night was chilly, and being far 
in advance of my baggage, I had neither marquee nor blanket; 
and having accepted the frank invitation of a soldier to take 
quarters with a small party of gay high-life, frolicsome young 
volunteers, called "McPherson's Blues," who, like myself, had 
neither bed nor covering, we set fire to a huge dead old oak, as 
dry, and almost as combustible, as spunk or tinder. In a short 
time, that decayed and sapless monarch of the forest was con- 
verted into a towering column of flame. Around this magnifi- 
cent object we iustinctively formed a circle, with joined hands, 
sang, at the top of our voices, the "Marseilles Hymn," then the 
revolutionary chorus of France, and danced Carmagnole, until, 
burnt nearly through, the mighty and brilliant " pillar of fire" 
suddenly giving way, came down with a crash that shook the 
earth around us, and endangered the lives of several of us in its 
fall. Our frolic being ended, we quietly stretched ourselves on 
the ground, in an open field overspread with grass and stubble, 
the heavens being our only covering, and took such repose as we 
might, until summoned to our duty by the beat of the reveille. 

A few days afterward, the army arrived at Bedford, a small 
town situated near the base of the Alleghany Mountains, where 
it halted and encamped for eighteen or twenty days, and scoured 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 217 

the surrounding country by small and well-mounted scouting par- 
ties, to arrest some of the most noted and obnoxious insurgents 
of the neighborhood. Of one of these parties, by my urgent re- 
quest, and as a special favor, the command was intrusted to me. 
Nor did I fail, after many days, or rather nights of exciting effort 
— whether of strategy or force — to secure and bring into camp 
the supposed offender, in the person of the individual I particu- 
larly sought. I say " supposed" offender — for, fortunately for 
him, and not dissatisfactorily to myself, he was found, on inquiry, 
to be an honest countryman — somewhat misled by a few seditious 
neighbors, but in no degree deserving of the name of traitor, or 
its consequent punishment. 

About ten days after the last event I have related, wo struck 
our tents, moved toward the west, and encamped for the night 
near a small village, at the base of the Alleghany Mountains. It 
need hardly be remarked that that is the ridge which separates 
the head branches of the rivers that seek the Atlantic Ocean, from 
those of the more extensive streams that make their way first 
into the Mississippi, and thence, as a portion of that mighty and 
celebrated mass of waters, into the Gulf of Mexico. 

Early on the following morning, we commenced the ascent of 
the mountain, which we did not complete until near night, by 
the most exposing and fatiguing day's march we had yet expe- 
rienced. As previously, I preceded the army on foot ami alone, 
having requested an officer, who was convalescent from an attack 
of fever, to make use of my horse. 

Having, from the summit of the Alleghany, through dismal 
roads, and with great toil and not a little suffering, the death of 
scores of horses, the breaking down of carriages, and other evils 
incident to military movements, advanced to within about twenty- 
five miles of Pittsburg, the army came to a final halt; and it was 
soon afterward proclaimed that the campaign was terminated, the 
object of it being accomplished; and that a retrograde movement 
of the troops would in a few days be ordered. 

Thus was an insurrection which, but six weeks previously, 
was exceedingly formidable, defeated and crushed without either 
bloodshed or battle, or any other feature of the actual horror and 
desolation of war. And an issue so unprecedentedly favorable of 
an evil so threatening was attributed to the wisdom and energy 



218 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

of "Washington, who was then President of the United States. 
Had he dispatched, as he was counselled to do, against the insur- 
gents, an army of only five or six thousand men, it would have 
been certainly opposed, and perhaps defeated, and the country 
thus stained with blood, overwhelmed in mourning, and pervaded 
by a spirit of hatred and vindictiveness, which might have rankled 
for ages, accompanied by the deeds of atrocity that belong to it. 
But Washington, aware of this, and determined to prevent it, 
ordered into the field an army of fifteen thousand privates, hun- 
dreds of them competent to the command of companies, and some 
of them of regiments, led by himself, and officered by some of the 
prime and master-spirits of the nation. And this formidable force, 
taking possession of the entire country of the insurgents, "looked 
down opposition" — a form of expression familiarly and generally 
used on the occasion, to indicate the ease with which the rebellion 
was quelled. No sooner did the cavalry, the most efficient portion 
of the army for the service required, begin to sweep through 
Western Pennsylvania, with orders to capture the leaders of the 
rebellion, than the most obnoxious of them fled and never re- 
turned, while others were arrested, or voluntarily surrendered 
themselves, and were tried, or gave security for subsequent good 
conduct and peaceful submission to the laws of their country. 
And the great and more obscure body of them, being regarded 
as men artfully misled and instigated to mischief by others, rather 
than as evil-minded of themselves, returned unnoticed to their 
homes, and were no further molested. 

When at the extreme western part of our march, where we 
lay about three weeks, our encampment was distant but eight or 
nine miles from the place called "Braddock's Field" — the long- 
noted ground of a sanguinary and disastrous battle between a 
large body of French troops and Indian auxiliaries, or rather, 
perhaps, of Indians and French auxiliaries, and an army com- 
posed of British troops and Virginia and Pennsylvania Provin- 
cials, commanded by General Braddock. So obstinate was the 
courage of the Indians, and so unerring and fatal the aim of their 
rifles, that the commander himself fell under a wound that proved 
afterward mortal; and nearly all his European officers, and one- 
fifth, I think, of his soldiers, were left on the field to the knives 
and hatchets of the triumphant savages. And, but for the 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 219 

bravery, coolness, and military skill of George Washington, then 
a youth who had not yet completed his twentieth year, nearly 
the whole British army would have experienced inevitably a 
similar fate. He acted on that clay of disaster and blood, as one 
of General Braddock's aids; and, though more than any other 
exposed during the action, he was the ODly one of them that 
survived it. And his survival was almost a marvel. Some of the 
Indians deemed it altogether so ; and pronounced it the work of 
the Great Spirit. A chief, who had participated in the battle, 
speaking of it many years afterward, said that during its con- 
tinuance, he himself fired at Washington six times, within 
striking distance, and still missed him; and tha't other chiefs 
had done the same. But that they at length ceased firing at 
him; because they believed him to be under the protection of 
the <ireat and Good Spirit. 

A few days previously to the commencement, by our troops, 
of their retrograde movement, taking with me, by permission, a 
file of ten or twelve men, I visited the celebrated battle-field of 
Braddock, and encamped on it a sufficient length of time to 
survey and explore it. The field I found to be of considerable 
extent, situated on a narrow but deep stream of water, and a 
small portion of it then under cultivation. It was well calculated 
for an ambuscade; the portion of it not cultivated being somewhat 
thickly covered with long grass and under-brush, where an 
enemy might lie concealed (as the French and their allies had 
actually done), and studded with oak, hickory, and sveamore 
trees; some of the latter being unusually white, lofty, and beau- 
tiful — the whitest, smoothest, and most limbless, in fact, I had 
ever beheld. Many of those trees bore witness to the battle, by 
the scars of wounds inflicted on their trunks by grape-shot and 
cannon-balls. By an examination of those records of violence and 
death-doing, I learned two facts not previously known to me, 
however familiar they might have been to others. One of them 
pertaining to war; the other, to the philosophy of ligneous and 
perennial plants. Of these, the former was, that the British had 
done, in the battle I am speaking of, but little, if any, execution 
with their cannon, in consequence of the incorrectness of their 
aim. Their balls and grape must have passed far over the heads 
of the enemy. The evidence of this was, that few, indeed, as far 



220 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

as I now recollect, none of them (especially of the balls) had 
struck the trees within less than from nine to twelve or thirteen 
feet of the ground. The latter of the facts was, that the age of trees 
is accurately recorded by the rings of small holes that exist in their 
structure — those rings, or the layers of solid matter that lie be- 
tween them, or both, being annual. To botanists, and others 
who have studied the philosophy of vegetable growth, this is 
now familiar; and by means of it, an important discovery has 
been made — that antediluvian trees are now in existence. By 
the count of their annual rings, their age exceeds six thousand 
years. Either, therefore, they must have withstood and survived 
the assault of the deluge ; or, they are the growth of a region 
which that calamity did not reach. As far as I am informed on 
the subject, the latter opinion is most generally received. And 
to me, it appears by far the more probable. Utterly to destroy 
the earth and its productions in places not inhabited, and of 
course not polluted by man, does not appear to have been the 
design of the deluge. Its waters were commissioned to punish 
and purify ; not wantonly and uselessly to destroy. On no 
ground, other than the non-universality of the deluge, can the 
fact be explained that different countries are inhabited by differ- 
ent sorts of undomesticated animals, that could not possibly 
make their way over oceans and seas, nor subsist elsewhere 
than in their native regions. 

I do not say that the fact of the age of trees being discoverable 
by their annual layers was not known before I was born. No 
doubt it was; though I have no recollection of any express re- 
cord of it. I only say that it was not known to me until I dis- 
covered it myself on Braddock's Field. And this I did by cutting- 
out of felled trees cannon balls and grape shot, and ascertaining 
that the number of layers that had grown around and over them 
since the time of their entrance, was identical with the numbers 
of years that had elapsed. The battle was fought, I think, in the 
year 1755; 1 visited the field in 1794; and, according to my 
best remembrance (for I have lost or mislaid my notes), the 
layers produced in the interval were 39. In relation to the pre- 
cise number, I may be incorrect in my count. But as respects 
their correspondence, I know that I am accurate. Ten or twelve 
of the extricated balls and shot, and a few blocks of wood still 



221 

containing some of those missiles, I had conveyed to Philadel- 
phia, with the initials of my name rudely carved on them, and 
deposited in Peale's Museum. 

Having returned to camp, I shortly afterward made a visit to 
Pittsburg, more commonly then denominated " Fort Pitt,'' in 
honor of the celebrated English orator, and spent in the place a 
couple of days. The town itself was then inconsiderable in size, 
ill-looking, and to me unattractive. But in two objects which 
presented themselves I felt a peculiar interest. One of them was 
a vast subterranean bed of coal on the west side of the Mononga- 
hela, which being on fire, poured out incessantly, like a volcano, 
a large and dense volume of smoke, threatening occasionally, as 
I fancied, to vomit forth flame; and which continued, I think, iu 
the same condition for nearly thirty years. The other was the 
superb commencement of the Ohio (of the Indian) or La Belle 
Riviere (of theGallican — the Beautiful River of both), setting out 
on its pious and far-reaching pilgrimage, to offer its homage, and 
pay its tribute to its parent the ocean. To me this grand and 
characteristic "meeting of the waters" (the Monongahela and the 
Alleghany) constituted an object of singular delight. I liugered 
by it therefore alone, during the whole of my last afternoon in 
Pittsburg, and took leave of it reluctantly on the descent of 
twilight. 

The campaign being now, as already stated, virtually ended, 
and the troops generally in good health, I obtained from General 
(i — r — y permission to intrust the medical care of the brigade to 
my mate, and to return toward home immediately, with my time 
and mode of movement at my own disposal. I promised, however, 
that, as my design was to make sundry digressions from the 
' road, connected with occasional halts and examinations of places, 
I Would visit the brigade at different points, and remain with it 
as long as might be necessary or useful. 

My arrangements being made, and the weather proving favorable 
for travelling on horseback, I set out alone on my gallant Black 
(my servant being directed to attend on my mate, and be careful 
of mv baggage). 1 travelled as I pleased, and where and when I 
pleased, and punctually visited the troops at the specified points. 

From this period, nothing worthy of notice occurred until our 
arrival in Philadelphia, destined to be the theatre of my subse- 



222 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

quent labors for the quarter of a century. And though it had 
already been my home for six-and-twenty months, only three 
months had passed away since I had begun to be known in it. 
Previously to that period, I had a simple acquaintance, but no- 
thing more, with all the medical professors (except Professor 
Bush, whose acquaintance with me was more intimate and tho- 
rough) and a few students of medicine with whom I very slightly 
associated. But the case with me now was, in most respects, 
abundantly different. But little more than three months ago, I 
had left Philadelphia, on the verge of being an invalid, and 
almost a perfect stranger, and had now returned in vigorous 
health, and known, as I began to believe, to the whole city; for 
nearly all who met me welcomed and named me, and many of 
them spoke to me in terms of familiarity and compliment. At 
first this change not a little surprised me. I had formed an ac- 
quaintance with all the most distinguished men in the army, and 
had made on most of them, as I had reason to believe, a favorable 
impression. But by what influence this could render me so 
generally and well known in the city, I could not conjecture. 
But it was not long until the riddle was solved. Not only had 
dozens or perhaps scores of letters been written back, by persons 
in the army, making favorable and friendly mention of me, but 
some of those letters had found their way into the public prints. 
And last, though not least, I found that even my own letter from 
the top of the Alleghany Mountain, and the sundry comments on 
it, had not been withheld from the public eye. 

That this notoriety, most of it not unfavorable, so soon and so 
easily acquired, in some degree flattered me, must not be denied. 
But there existed a reason why it was also in some degree re- 
gretted. And that was an apprehension that it would prejudi- 
cially interfere with my medical studies. For, my resolution was 
to press them with unabated ardor. Nor was I long in discover- 
ing that, by far the most serious impediment to the execution of 
this resolution arose from repeated invitations to evening parties. 
When calls were made by gentlemen, I could have myself denied. 
But, an entire escape from billets (now called cards of invitation) 
from ladies was absolutely impossible— except as the result of a 
degree of discourtesy that would amount to rudeness — and to 
that degree I was altogether disinclined, if not actually incompe- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 223 

tent. My only alternative was, therefore, either to waste my time 
in what the world called amusement and pleasure, and I, under 
iny then existing condition, dissipation and folly ; or to assume, 
to such an extent, the guise of ultra fashion, as to make my visit 
consist in entering the drawing-room at a late hour, bowing to 
the lady presiding, and a few others, speaking half a score of 
words, or making half that number of brief remarks, no matter 
on what subject, or whether characterized by sense or nonsense, 
taking then a silent and unnoticed leave, and returning imme- 
diately home to my study. And that course I steadily pursued, 
until it affixed on me the reputation of one of the most fashion- 
able beaux in Philadelphia. But, determined at last no longer 
to tolerate the imputation of a character so frivolous and foreign 
from my nature, I threw it off in two or three months, and re- 
turned, for a year and a half or more, to the same studious and 
recluse habits I had previously maintained. Having passed over, 
however, an incident of some moment to my narrative, I must 
turn back, and bestow on it the notice it seems to deserve. 

When the army had reached Philadelphia, and been disbanded, 
the campaign was of course completely at an end. But so was 
not its entire sequel. The campaign itself having been silent 
lather than noisy, and peaceful rather than warlike, it was deemed 
necessary to wind it up by an event that might aid a little in 
giving it eclat, and in saving it from forgetfulness — or that might, 
at any rate, give to it a social and festive finale", pleasant and 
creditable to all who should be concerned in it. Soon after our 
return, therefore, the officers of General G — r — y's Philadelphia 
brigade, and of one or two regiments from adjacent counties, re- 
solved to close and celebrate it by a military banquet. And, 
strange as it may appear, and inconsiderate and unsuitable as it 
certainly was, the chief direction of it was committed to me. At 
first I strenuously objected to the appointment, alleging its un- 
suitableness to my years and inexperience, its incompatibility 
with my engagements as a student of medicine (for the medical 
lectures were then in progress, and I was already in close attend- 
ance on them), and its utter inconsistency with the habits of my 
life. But my objections, though respectfully listened to and con- 
sidered, were deemed insufficient, and my acceptance of the ap- 
pointment so ardently urged, that it seemed impossible for me to 



224 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

escape from it, without disobliging some of my particular friends, 
and creating a degree of general dissatisfaction which I was un- 
willing to meet. I therefore accepted, and, with the aid of a 
committee appointed for the purpose, and a carte blanche as to 
expense, we commenced operations, inflexibly resolved on the 
accomplishment of a fete of such a character as would not only 
attract attention and command admiration at the time, but be 
long afterward held in remembrance. And in conformity to the 
uniform practice of my life, as I had engaged in a duty, I deter- 
mined to discharge it in the best and most commanding style of 
excellence of which I was capable. Nor did my resolution fail 
to be carried into effect, in a manner and degree not a little sur- 
passing my expectations. 

No special description of our banqueting saloon shall be at- 
tempted. It may be truly said, however, that in size it was 
abundantly spacious, and in its decorations (all in military style), 
rich, costly, and splendid, even to gorgeousness. The banquet 
was a night scene; and from the vast array of blazing candles 
(gas-light being then unknown), and the reflection of lustres, 
chandeliers, and mirrors, the illumination of the hall was almost 
painfully dazzling. Preparation was made for two hundred 
guests, and every seat was occupied, many of them by some of 
the first men of the day ; military officers of rank and meritori- 
ous subordinates; members of Congress and heads of Depart- 
ments (Philadelphia being then the seat of the Federal Govern- 
ment, and Congress in session at the time); foreign ambassadors; 
Judges of the Supreme and Circuit Courts; counsellors-at-law; a 
few respectable members of the clerical profession ; citizens of Phi- 
ladelphia, and respectable strangers. Washington, though invited, 
apologized through his secretary, and declined acceptance. All 
things considered, a more dignified, not to say august party had 
never, I believe, been seated at an entertainment in the United 
States. To consummate its grandeur and glor}', the presence of 
"Washington alone was wanting. The tables were abundantly 
supplied with every variety of the best and choicest fare that 
the markets and cellars of the metropolis could furnish. 

In the orchestra was a well-approved band of music, the gal- 
leries were crowded with the beauty and fashion of the city, the 
officers of the late army were clad in full-dress uniform, the wait- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 225 

ers wore military badges; General G — r — y, supported by ten or 
twelve vice-presidents, presided. Speakers to respond to certain 
stated toasts were designated, and I held the appointment of 
special aid to General G — r — y, with the office of master of cere- 
monies, and of responding to a volunteer toast to be given by an 
invited guest in honor of the army. I had also myself, in my 
capacity of chief of the committee of arrangements, written many 
of the regular toasts, and prepared for the occasion a suitable song. 
And I need hardly sav that, to a young man who had never pre- 
viously even witnessed a scene of the kind, much less acted a 
part in it, those duties constituted an arduous and formidable task. 
All of tliem, however, but one had been already discharged, and, 
as certain facts assured me, very flatteringly to my credit. All 
my toasts were enthusiastically received, and the song imputed 
to me was sung in the midst of thunders of applause. 

In relation to most of these duties, however, I had never enter- 
tained any serious apprehension. They had been performed in 
the solitude of my study, when my mind, free from agitation, had 
leisure to reflect and arrange, and to concentrate on its subject, 
whatever it might be, the faculties it possessed. 

Bat as respected the address I was now to deliver, the case 
was different. On the manner in which I performed that duty, 
I shall not now comment, but the effect produced by it was highly 
Mattering to my pride. My old and tried friend Gen. G — r — y, 
beckoning me to his side, pressed and shook my hand with a 
warmth of cordiality that might well be called vehement. 

But what most highly gratified me was the compliment paid 
me by a guest (one of the first men of the day), and of whose 
approval I was most ambitious. I allude to Hamilton. Taking 
me by the hand, he said : "Sir, I was told you would reply, in 
behalf of the army, to the compliment it was to receive; and, 
from what I knew and had heard of you, my expectation was 
high. And I now repeat what I once before said to you. You 
are professionally misplaced. You ought to be at the bar. If 
you were there, the address you have just delivered would be the 
groundwork of your fortune." By other gentlemen of talents 
and influence I was similarly complimented. Had I been so in- 
clined, moreover, I could have turned my popularity to a profit- 
able account. I was offered, in the course of the evening, three 
15 



226 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

several appointments : a commission in the army ; the place of 
secretary of legation to a foreign embassy ; and a surgeoncy and 
supercargoship in a merchant ship to Canton. The latter ap- 
pointment was, at that time, exceedingly lucrative — so lucrative, 
indeed, that a handsome fortune might be made by it ; and by 
several young men, within my knowledge, was thus made in a 
few years. In relation, moreover, to a commission in the army, I 
might have chosen between the American and French service. 
For the French Eevolution was then in progress ; and, from the 
ambassador of France, who was at the banquet an invited guest, 
to whom I was specially introduced, a commission in the army of 
his nation, with a passage to Bordeaux free of expense, was of 
easy attainment. 

The half official, half commercial appointment to Canton, I 
promptly declined, and prevailed on the merchant who tendered 
it, to bestow it on a young medical acquaintance, who made of it 
a very profitable business. The military commissions and the 
post of secretary of legation were regarded by me with different 
feelings ; and the acceptance of one or the other of them was not 
declined without grave consideration. And, but for the influence 
of a lady, who had seen me for the first time from the gallery 
of the banquet room, and who, as I subsequently learned, had that 
night lost a superb bouquet, which she neglected to advertise 
with a view to its recovery, I should, as there was strong reason 
to believe, have been attached in a short time to the army or to 
an embassy— most probably to the latter. For, as heretofore 
intimated, I had made to my father a positive promise that I 
would not pursue the profession of law, and a quasi one that I 
would relinquish also my inclination toward that of arms ; and 
I deemed it improper to violate either. Yet may it be correctly 
stated, that perhaps, in the present case, the influence of my new, 
most beautiful, and accomplished acquaintance and friend was 
fully equal in force to that of my previous pledges. But what- 
ever might have been the comparative strength of the three 
sources of influence, they all co-operated to the same result. Nor 
did I fail to experience in them the truth of the proverb, that "a 
threefold cord is not- easily broken." Hence my determination 
to decline the acceptance of the flattering offers, and remain in 
Philadelphia. And under that resolution I continued with reno- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 227 

vated interest and ardor my medical studies. Yet, delightful and 
abundantly instructive as those studies are when pursued in a 
liberal spirit and on an expanded scale, I have always considered 
my attachment of myself to the profession of medicine an injudi- 
cious measure. True, I have subsisted by it, done in it some 
good, accumulated some property, and acquired some reputation. 
But it lias in certain respects cramped my mind, limited the ex- 
ercise of its faculties, and withheld me from a sphere of action to 
which I consider myself better adapted. My choice of a profes- 
sion has been therefore unwise. But, as some apology for the 
error, its commission was not my own spontaneous act. It was 
imposed on me by influences which I held sacred, and could not, 
therefore, with propriety resist. 



228 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



CHAPTEE VII. 

Degree of M. D. — Thesis — What occurred at my examination — Offend Drs. Wistar 
and Rush — Consequences — Begin practice — Success — Amusements — Chess — Dr. 
Rittenhouse — Dr. Rush signs my diploma — Waterworks in Philadelphia— Dr. 
Rush, the originator of domestic origin of yellow fever— Write in his support on 
that subject. 

The western campaign I had been engaged in, and especially 
the festival by which it was closed, and in which I had borne so 
conspicuous a part, constituted in my life, in two respects, a new 
epoch, neither altogether uninteresting, nor unimportant to me at 
subsequent periods. Though I had resided in Philadelphia for 
nearly two years before my connection with the army, yet so 
recluse had been my habits, and so careful and persevering had 
I been to keep them so, by avoiding all unnecessary interruption, 
that I had become known to scarcely any one except the medical 
professors and a few pupils, who, like myself, were devoted to 
study. From idlers and time-wasters of every description, I 
had either kept myself at a distance, or had resolutely kept them 
at a distance from me. But altogether different was my present 
condition. By letters from officers and soldiers of the arrny 
while absent; by their conversation since their return; and, in a 
special manner, by the part I had sustained in the late banquet, 
I was known by name and appearance to hundreds. And of 
those, I soon ascertained that not a few were desirous of forming 
a personal acquaintance with me. Hence, numerous calls were 
■ made at my place of residence, and cards left for me, while I was 
absent in attendance on the medical lectures ; and I soon began 
to receive invitations to evening parties. Nor was this all — nor 
even the most dangerous obstacle to my studies that had recently 
befallen me. I had become acquainted with a lady who moved 
in a fashionable circle ; and she favored me with a desire that I 
should attend her at times in her morning visits, and to be intro- 
duced to her friends. And that desire was so irresistible that I 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 229 

surrendered at discretion, without even an effort to resist it. In 
relation, however, to her exaction on my time, there were two 
mitigating circumstances. Iler visit to the city was to be brief; 
and the moment she learned that my attendance on her prevented 
my attendance on the medical lectures, she made such a mani- 
festation of her regard for my interest and duty, as not only to 
release me from her previous claim on my time, but actually to 
forbid my attendance on her during lecture hours; and to request 
me, and even enjoin on me, to visit her only when in perfect con- 
sistency with my other engagements. Thus observant was she 
of my true interest, from our earliest acquaintance. 

In resisting such other claims on my time, as a prudent regard 
to my present condition and future prospects forbade me to yield 
to, I had no difficulty. Reason and truth, in apologizing and 
explaining; firmness and courtesy in declining some invitations, 
and making very brief visits in accepting others, enabled me to 
escape any injurious loss of time, and yet to retain such acquaint- 
ances as were agreeable to me, and such as I therefore desired to 
retain. The scheme, moreover, as regards a general acquaint- 
ance, which I then adopted, I have pursued throughout a long 
lifetime, and have saved by it many years of time which would 
have been otherwise wasted. And I am now convinced that it 
is the best scheme that can be pursued. By preserving acquaint- 
ance in a fresh and lively condition, it prevents it equally from 
taking rust on account of too little use, and from being worn out 
by too much. Let your visits be comparatively few, brief, and 
"far-between," accompanied each by a little sprightly conversa- 
tion on topics of common-place, and the result will be favorable. 
It is much better that an acquaintance should express his wonder 
twenty times why your visits are so few and brief, than once 
why they are so numerous and long. Such was one respect, in 
which the campaign and its termination proved to me the com- 
mencement of a new era. In the other, I did not perhaps so 
well acquit myself. Certainly, I did not so completely escape 
complaint and censure. It was as follows. 

Toward persons with whom I neither was nor wished to be 
intimate, and of whom I was unable to think very highly, on the 
score of intellect and attainment, or very favorably on other 
grounds, I had been from my boyhood inclined to act cavalierly, 



230 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

and perhaps to speak to them sarcastically and even tauntingly, 
in case they unceremoniously attacked my opinions, or in any 
other way gave me what I deemed cause of just dissatisfaction. 
In plainer language, toward such individuals, whom I was apt to 
regard as meddlers in matters above them, which they therefore 
did not understand, I was at times instinctively haughty and 
overbearing. Yet, toward those whom I considered entitled to 
contend with me, no man was more forbearing and tolerant under 
well-mannered opposition, or more respectful and courteous under 
the fervor of debate. 

As respected the former and most exceptionable of these two 
modes of deportment, my habits were not weakened by the time 
I had spent, the associations I had formed, and the reputation I 
had attained in military life. On the contrary, I soon felt myself, 
and others perceived that they were strengthened. Nor is it per- 
haps either surprising or unnatural that such should have been 
the case; the reason is plain. I was a very young man, for the 
scenes in which I had acted, proud and ambitious certainly, and 
probably not altogether untinctured with vanity. My associations 
in the army had been with some of the ablest and most dis- 
tinguished men of the country and the age. And I had been 
highly complimented by them, on account of my attributes and 
performances both mental and corporeal. In truth, it is hardly to 
be denied that, for a time at least, I was somewhat spoiled by 
them. No wonder, therefore, that I felt, or conceited I felt, a 
decided superiority to most medical pupils, as well as the ordi- 
nary cast of young physicians. But whether there was or was 
not any just ground for my indulgence of such a feeling, I cer- 
tainly did both indulge and manifest it to the extent, at times, 
of giving serious offence. On account of it, feelings of hostility 
against me were engendered, petty combinations formed, and 
corresponding schemes devised and concocted, to thwart me in 
designs I was believed to be meditating. And some of those 
fretted and envious associations, though abundantly puny and 
pitiful at first, ripened at length into malicious conspiracies, which 
seriously impeded me in my career of ambition. But for their 
influence, it is highly probable that I should never have mi- 
grated from Philadelphia to the West. I should, almost to a 
certainty, have been elected to the chair then occupied by Profes- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 231 

sor Rush, and now by Professor Chapman; for, though the petty- 
intriguers could not, of themselves, have prevented my introduc- 
tion into the Philadelphia school of medicine, men of a higher 
order, who were actuated by other motives, used them as suitable 
instruments to prevent it. And by that confederacy of the high 
and low, the richly gifted and the deeply unprincipled, my schemes 
of ambition in Philadelphia were defeated, and I accepted an 
invitation to try my fortune as a medical school builder and 
teacher in another region. 

On the narrative I have just given of my feeling and action, 
and their result, a brief comment may not be amiss. It may 
communicate useful and important instruction to young men con- 
stituted like myself (and there are probably many such), who set 
on themselves, their powers and attainments a higher estimate 
than other people do, and who manifest that estimate to their own 
prejudice — manifest it by a haughty and imperious deportment 
toward men who are naturally unwilling to be regarded as infe- 
riors. No sting penetrates so deeply, poisons so irremediably, or 
is remembered so interminably as that of contempt. It enkindles 
a sentiment of perhaps secret but fiery hostility which is rarely 
extinguished, but smoulders as an injury not to be forgiven, and 
threatens, on the first opportune occasion, to explode; and, if 
sufficiently powerful, to destroy. The truth of these remarks I 
have learned by experience, as well as observation. Under simi- 
lar circumstances, therefore, let other young men be cautious and 
circumspect. If they cannot extinguish their feelings of con- 
tempt, let them at least so control them as not to reveal them by 
actions or words. Of these tasks, though the former may not be 
practicable to them, the latter is. Every man, when in health, 
may, if he please, bridle his tongue, and restrain from action all 
his other voluntary muscles. And that is all the present case 
requires of him. I myself, at this moment, after the lapse of half 
a century, feel the evil of not having thus governed myself, at a 
time when the accomplishment of the task would have been easy. 
Put to return from this digression. 

It was in the course of that winter that there arose between 
Dr. Push and myself a misunderstanding which, though /buried 
it in oblivion, I have reason to believe, I might say to know, that 
he never did. 



232 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

The fact has been already stated, that, in a letter addressed to 
Dr. Rush, at an early period of the campaign of the west, I had 
apprised him of my having been promptly and completely cured 
of an attack of fever, by a thorough drenching in a shower of 
rain, and being unable for many hours afterward to exchange my 
wet clothes for dry ones. To me the knowledge of such a cure 
was at the time entirely new; and I believed then, and still be- 
lieve, that it was equally so to Dr. Rush. In neither, most 
assuredly, of his two preceding courses of lectures, had he made 
mention of an occurrence of the kind. I believed the fact, there- 
fore, to be a discovery of my own. And such it certainly was; 
for, from neither teachers nor books had I derived a knowledge 
of it. It was the result of an accidental experiment on my own 
person. I deemed it therefore creditable to myself, as well as of 
some value to the profession of which I was about to become a 
member, and, from those considerations, was no doubt proud of 
it. Hence I expected, and still think my expectation reasonable, 
that, should Dr. Rush deem it of such importance as to mention 
it in his lectures or writings, he would acknowledge himself in- 
debted to me for his acquaintance with it. 

Such, however, was not the course of action he pursued. In 
his lectures which he was now delivering (his first course after 
the reception of my letter), he mentioned the fact, as if it were 
one of his own discovery, without referring for it to myself, to 
books, or to any other source of information. Regarding this as 
an act of injustice toward me (and my opinion of it remains un- 
changed), I promptly determined to do justice to myself. And 
an arrangement to that effect was immediately made. 

Having had matters so managed that a call was made on me 
to read a paper to the Medical Society, at its next meeting but 
one, I accepted the call, and announced as the subject of the 
paper, the " Use of Cold Water in the Treatment of Fever." Seve- 
ral members of the Society being apprised of the fact that I had 
addressed a letter to Dr. Rush on that subject, and suspecting my 
dissatisfaction at his having made no reference to it when he 
spoke of the cure, felt persuaded that I was about to write on the 
subject, on that account; and that my paper would be productive 
of an animated discussion. The consequence was, a very crowded 
meeting of the Society on the evening when my paper was to he 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 233 

read. One or two of the other medical professors attended ; but 
Dr. Rush, who was invited and expected to attend, very properly 
declined. Several of his confidential and most pliable pupils, 
however, in the capacity of listeners and reporters, attended in 
his stead. 

In the tenor and tone of the article I had prepared for the occa- 
sion, many of my hearers were not a little disappointed. From 
what they had heard on the subject, it was expected by them to 
be somewhat severe and accusatory at least, if not openly condem- 
natory and belligerent. In truth, they expected me to charge 
Dr. Bush, in express and specific terms, with virtual plagiarism, 
in having used, as his own, a new and interesting if not import- 
ant fact which he had first received in a letter from myself. Such, 
however, was not the character of my paper. True, it contained 
a succinct and accurate account of my having been cured of an 
attack of fever by a shower of rain ; of the discovery of the 
remedy and cure being my own; of my having communicated 
the fact to Dr. Hush in a letter which he received; of his having 
used it in his lectures, without having ever previously used it, 
with no reference respecting it to either myself or any other 
person or source of information. All this I distinctly stated. 
Nor was it (ill that I stated. I emphatically added that, though 
the circumstances of the case involved it in some degree of doubt 
and even suspicion, I deemed it impossible for Dr. Rush to be 
guilty of it. And I expressed my regret that his absence from 
the Society deprived me of the pleasure of doing him the justice 
to say so in his presence. I further expressed my hope and 
belief that, instead of deriving knowledge from a pupil, and 
silently using it as his own, the doctor would be able, iu the 
present case, to make it clearly appear that he had either ob- 
served, in his own practice, the cure of fever by a fall of rain; 
that he had found cures of the kind recorded in some book or 
books, which 1 had never read, but which to him, from his more 
extensive acquaintance with medical history and literature, and 
to other physicians as fully versed in professional reading as 
himself, were so familiar that he deemed it superfluous to refer 
to them — or that he had forgotten to make the reference when he 
mentioned the fact — and that by a statement of the truth, he 
would free himself from every shadow of suspicion, on the instant 



234 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

he should be informed of its existence. In a word, by thus 
treating the subject, I so arranged matters as to compel Dr. Rush 
either to do me justice, by publicly acknowledging me to be the 
author to him, at least, of the information in question, or to sub- 
ject himself to deep condemnation, should he decline the acknow- 
ledgment. 

Having finished the reading of my paper, which contained a 
number of thoughts, characterized by more or less novelty, on 
the influence of cold or rather cool water in the treatment of fever, 
I retired from the reading stand; and the subject was announced 
by the presiding officer as open to discussion. 

After a momentary whispering among the little bevy of young 
physicians known to belong to the body guard (perhaps I should 
say theor3 r guard) of Dr. Rush, one of them rose and declared 
himself to be — 

"Exceedingly sorry that the very ingenious gentleman, in the 
very interesting paper with which he had favored the Society, 
should have thought himself justified in throwing, in his absence, 
any suspicion on the conduct and character of the distinguished 
Professor of the Institutes of Medicine" (the branch which, at that 
time, Dr. Rush taught). On this, without suffering the speaker 
to proceed any further in his very formal harangue, I suddenly 
rose, under manifest excitement, and begged permission to set 
right the gentleman who had just taken the floor, before he should 
have hopelessly entangled himself in the wrong. "Sir," said I, 
addressing myself to the presiding officer, "I feel always justified 
in stating the truth, whatever of suspicion or even of blame it 
may throw on the character of either a professor or of a profes- 
sor's prompt, but unnecessary defender. And, in the paper just 
read, I have stated nothing at war with truth, be its effect what it 
may on either the present or the absent. In the case, however, 
now before the Society, it affords me pleasure to be able to miti- 
gate at least, and I flatter myself entirely remove, the sorrow so 
eloquently and pathetically poured out by the gentleman, by 
offering him an assurance, accompanied, I hope, by conviction, 
that I, at least, have attempted to throw no suspicion on the cha- 
racter and conduct of the very distinguished Professor of the 
Institutes of Medicine. On the contrary, my effort, as the gentle- 
man ought to have perceived, had for its object an effect directly 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 235 

the reverse. While a statement of facts, which justice to myself 
compelled me to make, appeared to be somewhat creative of sus- 
picion, I declared my belief, or rather my conviction, of its being 
impossible for the professor thus implicated in the charge, to have 
committed the fault which that statement might, to some persons, 
seem calculated to affix on him ; and that he would be able, by a 
fair interpretation of it, easily to acquit himself of everything 
Unfavorable which the statement involved. From the representa- 
tions we have respectively made, therefore," I continued, " it is 
easy for the Society to perceive which of us, the gentleman on 
the floor or myself, entertains the most exalted opinion of the 
professor's character and conduct. His interpretation of the state- 
ment made by me involves them in suspicion ; mine acquits them. 
He deems it possible for Dr. Hush to be guilty of plagiarism; I 
deem it impossible. Were the professor himself here (and 1 
again express my regret that he is not), he would not pause a 
single moment in making a choice between this picture of him- 
self, and this ; the picture of him drawn by the gentleman who is 
defending him, and that drawn by myself, who am charged with 
an attempt to cover him with suspicion." 

This specimen of logic, though neither of the soundest nor 
profoundest description, was too intricate for the speaker to dis- 
entangle, lie therefore declined the debate, with the declaration 
that he was satisfied, inasmuch as it was not my intention to 
attach blame to the celebrated Professor of the Institutes of Medi- 
cine. With the professor himself, however, I afterwards learned 
the ease was different, lie was not satisfied; because, from 
the report made to him, he plainly perceived that his advocate 
had been defeated, and that suspicion was irrevocably fixed on 
his own conduct. Determined, however, to make the best of a 
bad concern, he adverted to the matter in a subsequent lecture, 
and stated all the facts of the case with accuracy and precision. 
And, as his reason for not having previously referred to my 
letter, he assigned his design to publish it in a work he was then 
preparing for the press. The letter, however, was never published. 
Nor did either the professor or myself ever afterward allude to it 
in our conversations. From a slight but visible change, however, 
in the frankness of his manner toward me, his dissatisfaction was 
obvious. But in a short time, either his reserve in manner disap- 



236 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

peared ; or I, by becoming accustomed to it, ceased to notice it; and 
our intercourse assumed, on my part at least, its usual character. 

The course of lectures in the medical school, for the session of 
1794-5, has now terminated, without the occurrence of any other 
event worthy of notice. The attendance on the Medical Society 
during the winter had been unusually full, and the debates, 
mostly on subjects of usefulness as well as interest, unusually 
spirited. In these I had taken an active part ; and, whether I 
had gained much on the score of reputation and standing or not, 
I had certainly sustained no loss. Although I had passed, not 
without some eclat, my examination for the doctorate, for reasons 
satisfactory to myself, I did not at that time apply for my degree. 
Nor was I in fact content with my examination. For though, 
as just stated, I had maintained myself in it with ease and flatter- 
ing commendations, I felt convinced that I could now acquit my- 
self better under a much severer ordeal. I was therefore anxious 
to encounter another and much more arduous trial. And, not a 
little to his surprise, I afterward made known my desire to Pro- 
fessor Wistar, the dean of the Faculty. Nor, singular as my 
request appeared to the professors, was it either refused, or the 
fulfilment of it delayed. 

As the ceremony, with its concomitants, of conferring on me 
the doctorate, constituted in my life au important epoch, it is my 
design to describe it somewhat in detail. It by mere accident 
was no less extraordinary than was my examination by design. 
I say by " accident ;" for, though ample cause was involved in it 
for all the effects that occurred, yet were many of those effects 
neither designed nor expected. Notwithstanding this, that some- 
what of an explosion between Dr. Rush and myself was likely to 
occur, was strongly anticipated by many persons, who, to an 
acquaintance with our tempers, added a knowledge of the fact 
that my thesis, which was already printed, contained sundry 
opinions earnestly supported, which he as earnestly opposed and 
condemned. And that anticipation drew to the Hall of the 
University a much larger crowd than had ever previously at- 
tended on a similar occasion. Besides the entire Board of Trus- 
tees and the whole literary Faculty of the University, headed by 
the Rev. Dr. Ewing, their celebrated President, the assembly con- 
sisted of many of the most distinguished members of the bench, 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 237 

the bar, the pulpit, and the citizens of Philadelphia at large, 
together with most of the respectable strangers in the city. 

My object in the present memoir is to furnish a familiar account 
of my own life and character, with such events and facts as tend to 
illustrate them. And the elements of the present case best calcu- 
lated for that purpose are the dissertation I wrote, and the spirit 
and capacity I manifested in its defence. To them, therefore, my 
remarks shall be chiefly confined. And I shall speak of them as 
freely as I would did they pertain to another individual; because. 
us far as they extend, they are particularly indicative of my cha- 
racter at the time. They clearly show that, even at that early 
period of my life, I had practically adopted as my motto the well- 
known and oft-quoted, but seldom realized line: — 

"Nullius mlclictiis jura re in verba mngistri." 

That I observed, thought, reasoned, judged, and acted for my- 
self, regardless of the opinions and actions of others, except in so 
far as they harmonized with my own. No matter whether those 
opinions and actions pertained to my equals in years or to my 
seniors — to my preceptors themselves, or to those with whom I 
had no immediate connection; no matter, moreover, what effect 
might be produced on my present interest and future prospects 
by my spirit of independence, and my disposition to broach, and 
adopt, and defend such opinions as I thought correct, and to con- 
test and endeavor to refute those which I deemed erroneous; no mat- 
ter, in fact, whether an opinion of a distinguished man lay imme- 
diately in my way or out of it, if I believed it to be groundless, and 
that I could gain eclat, or do good by attacking and exposing it, I 
never failed to become the assailant, so anxious and determined 
was I to become, if possible, and to be accounted — 

" Justimi, et tenacem propositi virum, 
Nun ciTiuni ardor prava jubentium, 
Non vultus instnntis tvranni 
Mente quatit solida; neque Auster 
Dux inqnletl tarbidna Hadrian » 

Nee flllllliimiMll magna Jovis miunis. 
Si fractus illabatur orbis 
Inipavidum ferient ruinoe.'' 

To such an extent did I allow this militant disposition to sway 
me. in the present instance, that few, if any, persons of judgment 



238 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OP 

and experience, fully informed of the circumstances of it, failed 
to deem me imprudent and unwise. And, in the common inter- 
pretation of those terms, their decision was correct. Owing to 
the character and influence of certain persons whom it offended, 
the part I acted on the occasion was instrumental in the produc- 
tion of a train of consequences which annoyed me for years. Nor 
is a doubt to be indulged that, after the lapse of more than half a 
century, they are still in operation, and give shape and coloring 
to my condition in life. But for them I should have been a profes- 
sor in the University of Pennsylvania, occupying the chair then 
filled by Dr. Rush, and now by Dr. Chapman, but created by their 
predecessors, instead of being at present a professor in the Uni- 
versity of Louisville, occupying a chair created by myself. Which 
of the two situations would have been most profitable to me, and 
which most toilsome and hazardous, are questions easily solved. 
But which of the two would have required and exhibited the highest 
and most diversified abilities, and which the most honorable when 
fully achieved, and most tributary to genuine fame, may perhaps 
be questionable. That, barring accidents, I should have been 
wealthier had I remained in Philadelphia, may be regarded as 
certain. And that, as a writer, I should have had more reputa- 
tion, is probable. But that I should have been more extensively 
and favorably known, as a practical and efficient man, or as an 
independent thinker and actor, and an original writer, is not, I 
think, likely ; but, perhaps, the reverse. Had I remained in 
Philadelphia, I should probably have become the author of a 
large, elaborate, and well-finished work ; which, if able and 
valuable, would have perpetuated my reputation, and given me 
somewhat of true fame, more certainly, and of a higher order 
than any other measure or movement has achieved. But, by 
coming to the West, I have travelled more in Europe and America 
than I would have done had I remained in the East. Hence, in 
relation to men, countries, and things, I have seen more, strictly 
and accurately observed more, read more extensively and to 
better effect in the Book of Nature, and thought more in amount, 
and more independently and to the purpose, than I would have 
done had I continued a resident of a large city. But my pro- 
ductions have been hastily written, published in small tracts and 
essays, and, in their condition, widely and solitarily dispersed 



CHARLES CALDWELL, 11. D. 239 

throughout the community. Not having been, therefore, pub- 
lished in volumes, they have possessed nothing of the force, and 
produce;' I nothing of the effect of a condensed aggregate. In be- 
stowing on inu any reputation as the result of their production, 
they have not acted in mass, the only way in which their effect 
could be either great or lasting. They have operated only indi- 
vidually, each producing only its own solitary effect — not tin- 
effect of combination. Hence their influence must be limited 
and evanescent. Were it possible, therefore, tlwt all my writings 
(including those that will be posthumous manuscripts) should b<> 
published hereafter, though they will show me to have been one 
of the most original and independent thinkers of the day, and 
much the most copious medical writer in the United States, yet 
will they give me, witli the "million," less reputation than a single 
volume of five hundred octavo pages, eveu feebly composed, but 
more entirely suited to their tastes and wants. Under such cir- 
cumstances, the /iw will consult my writings, but the multitude 
will neglect them. Thus speaking of myself, as I promised to 
do, precisely as I would speak of another person in a like case, 
such is my condition now compared to what it might and proba- 
bly would have been, had I acted a less stern and independent 
part in the graduation ceremony I am about to describe. Had I 
kept in favor with Dr. Hush, by adopting and defending all his 
opinions, I should have been adopted by him as his successor 
(for such was then his power), and would have inherited, in ap- 
pca ranee and public opinion, his reveries and opinions as well as 
his chair. But I chose to forego the latter rather than bury my 
reputation under the errors of the former. To these preliminary 
remarks I shall only add, that Dr. Rush and Dr. Wistar were the 
two professors who felt themselves aggrieved by some of the senti- 
ments contained in my thesis, and my remarks in defending them. 
My Inaugural Dissertation, which made a pamphlet of sixty 
nine pages octavo, consisted in an attempt to throw some light, 
in addition to what then existed, on three very formidable forms 
of disease, confined chiefly to infants and children — Hydrocephalus 
SnUrnus, Cynanche TracheaUa, and Diarrhoea (usually called chol- 
era) Infantum. Iu saying " light iu addition to what then existed," 
I have a special meaning. Such, at that remote period, was the 
condition of medicine, that, on the first two of the three foregoing 



240 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

complaints, but a very faint light had yet been thrown in any 
part of the world. And of the third, nothing was accurately and 
practically known, except to the physicians of the United States, 
acquainted with the diseases of large cities ; in which alone that 
complaint prevails in its genuine high-formed and high-toned 
description and character. As far as my knowledge of medical 
literature then extended, and indeed as far as it yet extends, the 
only writers who had then treated expressly and formally of 
hydrocephalus internus, were Dr. Fothergill, of London, and Dr. 
Rush, of Philadelphia. And on cynanche trachealis, no one had 
written with marked ability. So true is this, that it was even 
regarded as in some measure a new disease. Nor was it less true, 
that on diarrhoea infantum, for the plainest reasons, the press had 
thrown but very little light. At that period, as already men- 
tioned, contributions to the press by the physicians of the United 
States had been exceedingly limited. The very fact, therefore, 
that I selected as the subject of my thesis three forms of disease, 
of which so little was known, offered on my character a significant 
comment. It clearly bespoke my self-dependence, and, in proof 
of it, my determination not to write under the suspicion of being 
a borrower, or in any respect a dependent on others. Nor, as I 
can truly aver, did my dissertation contain, as far as I can remem- 
ber, a single fact or thought derived from the press. To render 
that result the more certain, from the beginning to the end of 
the composition of it, I did not open a book except perhaps an 
English Dictionary. Nor do I make the remark either boastingly 
or because there is any special merit in the fact (for it is some- 
times a fault); I make it because it is true and exhibitory of a cha- 
racteristic trait in me as a writer ; that, in proportion to the amount 
of my composition, I have borrowed and quoted, in both words 
and thoughts, less than any other writer in the United States, 
and indeed than any other with whose works I am acquainted. 
In truth, had I drawn more largely on the productions of other 
pens, I cannot doubt that my own productions might, in useful- 
ness and value, have been not a little improved by the measure. 
But to proceed with my narrative, and state the reasons why Dr. 
Rush and Dr. Wistar took offence at me, and advert to some of 
the passages in my thesis which gave them, in their opinion, 
a just cause of offence. Reference will be also made to some of 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M.D. 241 

the replies which Dr. Rush drew from me by the mode of his 
attack on myself, and my dissertation — for an attack it was. 
rather than a fair and dignified statement of objections made by a 
professor to the production of a pupil. I shall begin with the 
offence taken by Dr. Wistar, and a representation of the cause of 
it. 

In demonstrating the structure, and speaking of the uses of the 
cellular membrane, the doctor had represented that tissue ae 
aflbrding a free passage to a fluid from one part of the body to 
another, through the openings that everywhere exist between it- 
cells. In proof of his position, he adduced the well-known phe- 
nomena of general anasarca. "The serum," said the professor. 
" that produces the enlargement, is accumulated in the afternoon 
:ind evening in the feet, ankles, and legs of the patient. Ilence 
those parts are then enlarged. But, in the morning, the enlarge- 
ment has removed from them, and settled in the face. This 
interchange, gentlemen, takes place by the passage of the serum 
from the lower extremities to the superior parts of the body, 
through the openings between the cells of the cellular membrane. 
And this passage is produced on the principle of gravitation. 
During the day, the face being the superior part of the person, 
the serum descends from it to the inferior parts, through the cel- 
lular membrane, by the power of gravity — precisely as any other 
ponderous body descends when not supported. But, during the 
night, the body of the patient being in a recumbent posture, the 
scrum returns through the same openings, by the same power 
(that of gravity), and by morning has reached the face, which is 
then swollen." Such was the substance of the professor's repre- 
sentation. Nor was the error it inculcated peculiar to himself. 
It was, as 1 have reason to believe, the error of the time. At 
least I have heard it repeatedly asserted by others. It was there- 
fore that I opposed to it, in my dissertation, several substantial 
objections. 

My objections to Dr. Wistar's hypothesis being stated, I ren- 
dered what I regarded as the true exposition of the mutual 
transfer of the intumescence between the face and the lower 
extremities. I asserted the phenomenon to be the result ex- 
clusively of the vascular action of secretion or transfusion and 
absorption. Nor have I yet ceased to entertain the same opinion. 
lt> 



242 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

In an anasarcous condition of the system, the capillaries in general 
being debilitated and irritable, congestion, in whatever portion of 
it occurs, is productive of a transfusion or superabundant secre- 
tion of serum, and, of course, of intumescence. Owing to their 
depending position, therefore, during the day, congestion and its 
effects take place in the lower extremities. And on the same 
principle they occur in the face during the night. But by a 
change of position, from an erect to a recumbent one, the condi- 
tions of the parts are also changed. The congestion in one of 
them is diminished, and in the other increased. So of course is 
the intumescence. In the part where the congestion is lessened, 
the superabundance of serum is carried off by absorption, and the 
enlargement also lessened ; while in that, where the congestion is 
augmented, the transfusion also is augmented, and with it the 
tumefaction. Hence the alternate enlargement and diminution 
of the face and the lower extremities. The truth of this state- 
ment is at once illustrated and confirmed by the well-known fact 
that pressure on the veins of the inferior extremities, creating 
congestion in them, produces a superabundant transfusion of 
serum, with an enlargement of the parts. Examples of thi3 are 
common in the advanced stages of gestation. 

Though Professor Wistar felt very keenly the pointedness of 
my critique on his lecture, he also perceived its correctness, and 
acted at the time with the magnanimity of a man. His observa- 
tions in reply were calm and dignified, respectful and gentle- 
manly. And they were also in no ordinary degree compliment- 
ary to myself. And he so far regarded them, as never afterward 
to commit the error they so fully refuted. But I had reason to 
believe that he never forgot nor entirely forgave the exposure 
they made of his extraordinary mistake. For though he con- 
tinued on terms with me of great courtesy and politeness, and 
though our subsequent intercourse was characterized by all the 
externals and not a few of the substantials of friendliness and 
good-will, yet were his manners toward me wanting in the 
warmth and cordiality which had previously marked them. 

With Dr. Rush I came into conflict on sundry points, and on 
some of them the conflict was cutting and severe. I at first was 
calm and courteous; but he, from the beginning, gave reins to 
his feeling, until he, at length, aroused mine to the vehemence of 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M.D. 243 

his own, and compelled me to accost him in the language, but 
not in the manner, of passion; for I maintained throughout, my 
self-control and collectedness, which gave me, on every topic dis- 
cussed by us, a decided ascendency in both matter and mode. 

In my Inaugural Dissertation, as first printed, I inserted a 
brief account of my letter from Lancaster, respecting the cure of 
fever by a shower of rain, and the purpose to which Dr. Rush 
had applied it. That account, however, I had expunged, at the 
suggestion of the Dean of the Faculty, who frankly told me that 
lie knew it to be unnecessary and useless, and deemed it impro- 
per. Still, during my defence of my thesis, Dr. Rush, who was 
my objector and opponent, referred to it with great virulence and 
blame. In relation to that objection, however, which was the 
first he introduced, I completely overthrew and silenced him, 
and gained by that means a decided advantage in everything 
that followed. 

No sooner had the doctor emptied on my letter his first vial 
of wrath than I rose, and, addressing the Rev. Dr. Ewing, Pro- 
vost of the University, who presided on the occasion, said with 
great calmness, and in a suppressed tone, " I was summoned here, 
sir, as I was given to understand, and of course to believe'' (lay- 
ing on "believe" a strong emphasis), "to defend only what is con- 
tained in my thesis; not what I have stricken out of it. Rut if 
it he your decision (emphasizing "your") that I shall defend also 
the expunged passage, I am perfectly prepared for the task, and 
will cheerfully perform it." 

"It is not my decision that you must defend the expunged 
passage," said the provost, in a very decisive tone; "and Dr. 
Rush has no right to refer to it. In doing so, he is out of order." 

I bowed and resumed my seat, persuaded that a sparring 
match between the professor and the provost would immediately 
ensue ; for they had never played toward each other the brotherly 
parts of ( hvstes and Pylades. 

Dr. Rush positively and vehemeutly declared that he had a 
"right to refer to the letter," and to call on me to defeud the 
account of it which I had inserted in my thesis: and that he 
would maintain that right. The provost then, addressing him- 
self to me, said: "Did you not say, sir. that you had expunged 



244 AITTOBIOGKAPHY OF 

from your dissertation the passage in which the letter is men- 
tioned ?" 

" I did, sir ; and I said so truly. The passage was expunged 
by me, at the suggestion of the Dean of the Faculty, and is not 
now in my thesis." 

"I hold in my hand," replied Dr. Rush, "a copy of the thesis, 
in which, at page — , the passage still remains." In a moment 
the trustees, to each of whom two copies of the dissertation had 
just been given, turned to the page mentioned by Dr. Rush, and 
unanimously asserted that the copies of the pamphlet which they 
had just received contained no such passage. 

I then approached Dr. Rush, with a hurried step, and said to 
him abruptly, and I doubt not half-mandatorily : " Pray, sir, allow 
me to see this pamphlet!" 

"Do you doubt the authority of my word, sir," said he, in an 
indignant tone, "as to the contents of your pamphlet, and there- 
fore demand a sight of it yourself?" 

In a voice no less indignant, I promptly replied : " In the pre- 
sent case, sir, as respects the assertion you have made, I doubt 
all authority but my own eyes ;" unceremoniously taking the 
pamphlet out of his hand. 

" Then use your eyes, sir, to your own conviction, and the veri- 
fication of my word," was the professor's terse and stern re- 
joinder. 

"I have used them, sir, to my full conviction." 

Turning then to the provost, with the pamphlet raised aloft in 
my hand, so that every one in the hall might see it, I added, in 
a tone of cutting sarcasm : " This is a spurious copy of my thesis, 
procured by what device I know not, and brought here for what 
purpose I care not." 

Turning again to Dr. Rush, I continued in the same tone : " You 
must know this, sir, to be a counterfeit copy of my thesis ; for I 
can prove your having been apprised yesterday that the passage 
you except to was erased by my direction, at the suggestion, as 
already stated, of the Dean of the Medical Faculty." 

And I then disdainfully tossed the pamphlet on the table before 
him, and returned to my place. But, instead of sitting down, I 
maintained my standing position, drawn up to my full height, with 
folded arms, and looked slowly and significantly toward that 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 245 

portion of the audience formed by the Trustees of the University 
and the Faculty of Medicine. 

For a moment, not a word was spoken, except in whispers. 
But, at length Dr. Rush, agitated by a mixture of passions, morti- 
fication and resentment being the leading ones, said to me in a 
half suffocated voice: "By whom, sir, do you presume to assert 
that I was informed of the offensive passage being stricken out 
of this pamphlet?" the thesis being again almost spasmodically 
grasped in his hand. 

" I have said nothing about that pamphlet in your hand, sir, 
except that it is a counterfeit. But I say that Mr. D — b — n, the 
printer of my thesis, informed you yesterday that the passage 
so often referred to was erased by my order. And if he be in 
this assembly, he will testify to the truth of my assertion." 

" Sir, Mr. D — b — n did not tell me that the passage was stricken 
out; but only that it was to be stricken out. But finding it still 
here" (pointing to the pamphlet), "1 felt authorized to suppose 
the order to be withdrawn." 

"Sir," I replied, with increased indignation, "the pamphlet now 
in your hand is the same that you possessed when you saw Mr. 
D — b — n, before he had made the intended erasure. Had you 
looked into the copy which, by my direction, he sent to you this 
morning, and which, I doubt not, is in your possession, you would 
have perceived that my order to him had been faithfully exe- 
cuted. And there would then have been neither plea nor excuse 
for this altercation, on account of which I am both mortified and 
ashamed ; vet, for the production of which, I appeal to the audi- 
ence that I am not in fault — for it is exclusively the product of 
your own groundless and unjustifiable resentment." 

It was now that, by his vehemence, Dr. Rush drew from me 
the haughty reply whieh has never since been forgotten; yet, as 
far as I know, never altogether correctly reported. It, soon after 
its occurrence, found its way into two or three of the Philadel- 
phia newspapers, and has since been several times republished 
in New York and Boston papers, and perhaps in those of other 
parts of the country. 

Almost hysterical with rage, the doctor said to me, immediately 
after the utterance of my last sentence : " Sir, do you know either 



24:6 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

who I am, or who you are yourself, when you presume thus 
arrogantly to address me ?" 

" Know you, sir?" I calmly, but contemptuously replied. "0! 
no ; that is impossible. But, as respects myself, I was, this 
morning, Charles Caldwell ; but indignant, as I now am, at your 
■injustice, call me, if you please, Julius Csesar, or one of his de- 
scendants /" 

I then resumed my seat ; and a momentary silence again en- 
sued. At length, the provost directed that the business of the 
day should go on, he hoped with more calmness and decorum 
than had hitherto marked it. But the doctor's wrath was not to 
be appeased. On the contrary, to such a pitch was it augmented 
that, when the other professors affixed their names to my di- 
ploma, he refused to affix his ; except on the condition that I 
should revoke some of my expressions, and apologize for having 
used them. " Toward you, sir," said I calmly, but with great 
firmness, "I shall do neither. But," addressing myself then to 
the provost, and bowing to the Board of Trustees and the Medi- 
cal Faculty as a body, "if I have uttered a word, or committed 
an act justly excepted to by any other person in the hall, or 
in the slightest degree in violation of the order and decorum of 
the occasion, I beg your acceptance, sir, in behalf of the assem- 
bly, of the entire revocation and apology which I thus respect- 
fully tender." Stepping then to the table and lifting my diploma, 
" This instrument," I observed, " wants but one name more, which 
I wish it to bear- — that of the honorable provost, which I doubt 
not the reverend gentleman will affix" — which he immediately 
did. I then added : "As the Professor of the Institutes of Medi- 
cine and Clinical Practice has refused me his name, I shall in a 
short time convince him that I can do without it. I have been 
anxious, and even ambitious to remain on good terms with him, 
and have faithfully and strenuously exerted myself to that effect. 
But, for the accomplishment of neither that, nor any other 
earthly purpose, will I ever surrender my independence of mind." 
And, as far as I was concerned, thus ended the ceremony. 

In the life of every well-educated professional man, there occur 
two epochs, which operate as isthmuses, separating one portion of 
his career from the others ; and which rarely, if ever, fail to pro- 
duce much grave and anxious calculation and thought. The first 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 247 

of tlicse takes place between the close of bis academical and the 
commencement of bis professional studies; and the second be- 
tween the close of his professional pupilage and the commence- 
ment of his professional practice. In young men, in any measure 
devoted to gravity and reflection (and perhaps all young men are 
more or less so at those periods), these epochs, I say, are times 
of unusual anxiety, thought, and sober calculation. And the 
subjects of these meditations are, "with all individuals substan- 
tially the same — the choice of a profession, in the former instance, 
and the choice of a place to practise it in the latter. And, as 
respects professional eminence and usefulness, the two points are 
of great and perhaps of nearly equal importance. Unless a 
young man selects a profession for which he is qualified by talent, 
taste, and attainment, his acquisition of real eminence and useful- 
ness in it is Impossible, lie may, by great and persevering labor 
become barely respectable in it — but nothing more. And, to no 
small extent, the same is true, as regards the locality he selects 
for his residence and business. Much of his success will depend 
on its being not only really favorable for practice, but favorable 
also in his own opinion. Mv reasons for the remark contained 
in the latter clause of this sentence is that young physicians at- 
tribute at times to the unfavorableness of the place, the want of 
success in the procurement of business, which is justly attributable 
to their own conduct. They are idle, wasteful of time, or inat- 
tentive to such patients as employ them; or they are unattractive 
and unpopular in their manners. For some of these reasons, or 
for all of them united, they are disappointed in their expectation 
of business. Their disappointment, I say, they ascribe to some 
fault in the place, and remove to another one ; and, for the same 
reason, from that to another, and another, until they become such 
changelings as to procure business in no place. It is neither 
locality nor station that insures success in any business. It is 
individual merit — the principal elements of which are skill, 
industry, sobriety, attention, perseverance, sound morals, and 
pleasing manners. The young physician who possesses them will 
be, in due time, employed, in business anywhere; while he who 
is destitute of them will be employed nowhere. The reason is 
plain. He does not deserve employment. 

Several kinds of situations for business were presented to my 



248 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OP 

choice, on the occasion I am considering. I had invitations to 
settle in several of the West India Islands, where a large fortune, 
at least an independent one, might have been realized in the 
space of a few years. I was earnestly solicited to return to North 
Carolina, and commence practice, at option, either in a large, 
sickly, and wealthy district of country, or in any of the largest 
and wealthiest cities of the State. But in none of those places 
could I have done more than accumulate money. And that was 
neither the exclusive, nor the leading object of my aim. My 
ambition urged me to qualify myself for public medical teaching, 
by medical learning and medical distinction. In still plainer 
terms, it urged me, as heretofore stated, to become the successor 
of Dr. Eush. I therefore selected positively, as my place of resi- 
dence, the city of Philadelphia, where I could have access to 
the best medical libraries in the United States, and be at no loss 
for professional competition. 

My pupillary career being now finished, and my practical 
not commenced, and my translation of BlumenbacKs Physiology 
having been recently issued from the press, I was engaged in 
nothing that could be called business; because I had not in view 
the immediate accomplishment of any special object; and the 
want of such an object was, in my estimation, tantamount to 
idleness ; which, in my vocabulary, even at that early period of 
my life, was but another name for a positive, at least, if not a 
serious fault. But in the more common and indulgent language 
of the day, I had at command the first few hours of leisure I had 
possessed for I know not how many years. I therefore made a 
visit to a friend in Burlington, passed three days there in serai- 
rural enjoyment, concerted certain plans of subsequent operation, 
and returned to the city fully prepared for their vigorous execu- 
tion. 

I now entered on the practice of my profession with as much 
industry, resolution, and energy as I had ever previously em- 
ployed in the study of it. And although I have said that the 
mere acquisition of money was not my leading aim in business, 
it was notwithstanding a very important one ; for not only had 
I exhausted my funds to the last dollar, but I was in debt to the 
amount of several hundred. Still, as I had never previously, 
when engaged in business, experienced any difficulty in providing 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 249 

abundantly for my wants and wishes, I entertained no apprehen- 
sion as respected the future. 

Nor was my confidence in my money-making prospect mis- 
placed or extravagant. My success in business surpassed my 
expectation, and fell but little, if at all, short of my hopes and 
wishes. From its very commencement, I not only amply sup- 
ported myself; I regularly paid, every three months, some portion 
of my liabilities, until the whole of them were discharged. Nor, 
to my great gratification, did I experience a single call from a 
collector during the whole period. My creditors, who were few 
in number, and all of them respectable men (and not, I presume, 
at any time in immediate want), perceiving not only my willing- 
ness, but my anxiety to free myself from debt, treated mo with 
great liberality. Not only did they refuse to receive interest; 
they urged me repeatedly not to offer them money, without con- 
sulting my own entire convenience in the act. Their generosity 
had no other effect on me than to make me labor the more 
strenuously to meet and deserve the confidence and kindness 
they so flatteringly bestowed on me. And, my costume excepted, 
in which I perhaps too punctually complied with the precepts of 
Polouius to his sou : — 

" Costly tby habit ns thy purse can buy, 
But not expressed in fancy ; rich, not gaudy ;" 

I did not indulge myself in an act of extravagance, or an article 
of luxury, until the last cent of my debts was discharged. 
For my resolution was to be, in the strictest sense of the phrase, 
a free man ; which I did not feel myself to be, as long as any 
person could make on me a just demand with which I could not 
comply. 

When all my liabilities, however, were cancelled, I once more 
conformed to the feelings of my nature, and spent my money 
with sufficient freedom. But I never spent it in such a way as 
either to waste my time, injure my health, awaken a sentiment 
of self-reproach, or subject myself in the slightest degree to the 
censure of others. On the contrary, in every expenditure I made 
(though it had in it nothing of the narrowness of actual self), I 
had in view either the promotion of my own ultimate iuterest 
or rational pleasure, or that of some person or thing with whom 



250 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

or which I was in some manner connected. Nor did I ever allow 
a pleasure or amusement to interfere in the slightest degree with 
my business, or to shorten for a moment the portion of time I 
allotted to study. For my two predominant objects were the 
skilful, successful, and therefore reputable performance of profes- 
sional duties now; and adequate preparation for the performance 
of them on a broader scale, and in a higher and more distinguished 
style, at a subsequent period. And to those objects I made every 
other measure and movement, in which I bore a part, subordinate, 
at least, if not subservient. 

The amusements which an individual selects and enjoys are as 
illustrative of his character as are the studies he cultivates and 
delights in, the business he pursues, or the action he performs. 
Perhaps they are in some respects even more illustrative of it. 
The reason is plain. The selection of them is more voluntary — 
freer, I mean, from constraint. Acts of business are not unfre- 
quently the result of necessity ; but amusements are always the 
issue of choice. It will not, therefore, be deemed inappropriate 
in me to state that my favorite amusements were the theatre and 
dancing. Fencing; being at once an amusement and an invigorat- 
ing and useful exercise of the body, and chess an amusement 
and an exercise somewhat strengthening to the mind, I indulged 
in them occasionally for several years subsequently to my com- 
mencement of the practice of my profession. Finding, however, 
as my professional business increased both in quantity and the 
space of the city over which it extended, that they were likely to 
occupy too much of my time, I suddenly abandoned them, and 
seldom, if ever, afterward played a match at either of them. 
This change in my habits and associations I could not have made 
so promptly and entirely as I did, had it not been for the strength 
of my will, and its arbitrary sway over my whole being and 
actions. Nor, notwithstanding the decided supremacy of that 
power, and the obedience to it to which the others had been, for 
no inconsiderable time, accustomed, was the change effected 
without reluctance and regret. For, in both forms of exercise I 
was so dexterous and celebrated as to be very rarely otherwise 
than victorious in the contest. And of that I had sufficient 
weakness to be proud. And of my standing as a chess-player, 
I shall only say that Dr. Bollman (who attempted the rescue of 



CUARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 251 

the Marquis De Lafayette), General Ilarper, and myself, were 
acknowledged to be the three ablest players in Philadelphia, and, 
as was believed at the time, in the United States. Yet so essential 
to dexterity in all things is practice, that an entire neglect of 
those accomplishments for forty-four or forty-five years has utterly 
deprived me of the last relict of ability in them. So complete is 
this deprivation that 1 have even forgotten the powers and move- 
ments of the several chess pieces. And though I retain a perfect 
remembrance of all the guards, passes, and feints in fencing, and 
am far from being deprived, by time, of the sight, strength, and 
action of a very tolerable fencer, I cannot, with any show of 
dexterity, execute the simplest of them. 

In the course of my business walks (for I never rode in them) 
1 almost daily met Dr. Rush, and always gave him a silent, but 
very respectful Balutation. I never, however, addressed to him 
a single word, oor gave him, by either look or movement, the 
aUghtest encouragement to address one to me. For I had irre- 
vocably determined that, as he had, not only without a single 
cause, but even in direct opposition to several, commenced the 
misunderstanding between us, he should also make the first 
overture toward the termination of it; else, that it should termi- 
nate only with my life or remembrance. For my resolution was, 
to be treated by him, in all cases and relations, as a man of steadi- 
ness, consistency, and self-respect; or to hold no further inter- 
course with him. 

At length, by the intervention of a mutual friend, a partial 
reconciliation was effected between Dr. Ivush and myself. 

Dr. Rittenhouse, the celebrated astronomer, one of the Trustees 
of the University of Pennsylvania, who had witnessed the scene 
at my graduation, informed me that the doctor was willing and 
even desirous to put his name to my diploma. 

Greatly influenced by my high respect for my friendly adviser, 
and somewhat also by the remembrance of my former kindly 
intercourse with Dr. Rush, I yielded to the remonstrances of Dr. 
Rittenhouse, and waited upon Dr. Rush with my diploma, and 
received his signature. Our interview was brief ami cold; my 
own air and manner, though studiously respectful, were ceremo- 
nious and haughty. 

From this period (1795 or 1796) nothing occurred to me or 



252 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

was done by me deemed worthy of special notice, until the year 
1797, some of the events of which will be recorded in the next 
chapter. 

The intervening time, however, was far from being either 
passed in idleness, or unprofltably employed. It was chiefly de- 
voted, with my usual industry, to two objects: the practice of 
my profession, in which my success continued to be highly flat- 
tering, and to the preparation of the minds of its inhabitants for 
the introduction of the water of the Schuylkill into the city of 
Philadelphia. 

Of the present population of that great and flourishing city 
who are now in the tranquil enjoyment of the incalculable benefits 
of that enterprise, but few, if even one individual, is acquainted 
with the immense difficulties that attended its commencement, in 
consequence of the powerful opposition to it that existed. Almost 
the whole wealth and a vast proportion of the strong but misdi- 
rected intellect of the city were opposed to it. In truth, its real 
advocates were few; and of them no inconsiderable number was 
held in check and deterred through caution, not to say actually 
fear, from taking any active part in the struggle, by the high 
standing and overwhelming influence of the multitude of its 
opponents. 

The opposition to the introduction of the water arose from 
several different sources — want of information, deep-rooted pre- 
judice, and a false view of interest. And the mixed handling of 
those three causes gave to the question a degree of entanglement 
which few persons were able to thread. 

The ablest and most active advocates of the enterprise were 
believers in the domestic origin of yellow fever, which had but 
lately spread desolation and dismay throughout Philadelphia and 
the adjacent country. And they contended that that pestilence 
was the product of the foulness of the alleys, streets, and wharves 
of the city, which would be removed by the introduction and 
proper employment of the Schuylkill water. 

To the doctrine of domestic origin, on the other hand, almost all 
the property holders of Philadelphia were violently opposed, partly, 
as just observed, for want of correct information as to the causes 
of disease, and in part from prejudice and groundless apprehen- 
sions in relation to their interests. They were apprehensive, or 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 253 

rather, in their own view of the subject, thoroughly convinced 
that, should the belief prevail that the pestilential yellow fever 
was generated in the city, all sorts of business in it would so far 
decline, and emigration from it take place to such an extent, as to 
render city property of very little value. 

Jn this state of public notion and feeling, the doctrine of 
domestic origin, its authors and advocates, not only became 
unpopular, but were so deeply and generally condemned, not to 
say denounced, that the avowal and defence of it became seriously 
hazardous to professional interest. By not a few of its most wild 
and fanatical opponents, those physicians who were known to be 
the defenders and propagators of it, were virtually proscribed as 
undeserving of patronage. In consequence of this, some of them 
ware materially injured in their practice. By no small propor- 
tion of the importers of yellow fever, Dr. Bush, much to his 
detriment, was proclaimed in the streets and public places to be 
an enemy to the city. 

Under circumstances so threatening, it was not to be expected 
that consistency, firmness, and perseverance among physicians 
advocating a belief in domestic origin would be general. Nor 
were they so. On the contrary, they were very rare. 

( >ne class of practitioners who had openly declared in favor of 
the home origin of yellow fever, became silent — neither advocating 
nor opposing it. Another vacillated, trimmed, and equivocated 
on the subject. A third openly apostatized, and took part with 
the importing class; and, as if the more thoroughly to cleanse 
themselves from the sin they had committed, and regain the favor 
and business they had lost by it, they exceeded all others in the 
foulness and virulence of their abuse and denunciation of the 
small class they had deserted, which steadily persevered in its 
belief and defence of domestic origin. 

To the latter class belonged Dr. Rush, with whom the doctrine 
of home origin originated; Dr. Physick: a French physician 
whose name 1 have forgotten; and, to the best of my belief, my- 
self. Of these, Dr. Bush talked much and everywhere on the 
subject, both publicly and privately, but wrote little or nothing 
for the public prints. Dr. Physick neither talked nor wrote about 
it, except in monosyllables (and even in them only when inter- 



254 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

rogated), but was firm in his opinion; and the Frenchman could 
neither speak nor write to any purpose, in the English tongue ; 
nor did he remain long in the country. I was myself, therefore, 
the only writer on the subject for the public press. And I wrote 
somewhat extensively, publishing a short article or two almost 
every week, for the space of twelve or eighteen months. I also 
spoke on it much more, as I believe, than even Dr. Rush. For 
not only did I converse on it wherever and whenever an oppor- 
tunity presented itself; I also debated on it, not only in the Medical 
Society, but also in the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and 
the American Philosophical Society ; having become a member of 
the two latter institutions soon after my reception of the doctorate 
in medicine. That, by this independent course of action, thought, 
and expression, I would be injured in my pecuniary interest, I 
had no doubt. But neither had I any regard for such an issue. 
I preferred truth and public good, with a small supply of money, 
to error and public mischief, with a large one. I therefore fear- 
lessly, and regardless of consequences, proceeded in the discharge 
of what I believed to be my duty. 

Nor was the domestic origin of yellow fever the only subject 
on which I wrote for the public prints. Many, perhaps most, of 
my articles in them contained arguments in favor of the introduc- 
tion of the Schuylkill water into Philadelphia, and urgent recom- 
mendations of it, as one of the most effectual means of protection 
from pestilence. Not only, therefore, did I write copiously on 
that topic ; but, so far as I am informed in the matter, I was the 
author of the first article on it that was ever published in a 
Philadelphia newspaper. I shall only add on this subject an 
expression of my positive belief that, had it not been for the 
exertions of Dr. Rush and myself, aided by the concurrence in 
opinion of Dr. Physick, probably twenty years more would have 
elapsed before the completion of that measure, so essential, in 
many respects, to the welfare of Philadelphia. Yet, notwith- 
standing our being fellow-laborers in the same great and bene- 
ficent cause, so complete was our estrangement from each other 
(I mean that of Dr. Rush and myself), that we held no personal 
conference on it until the autumn of 1797, or perhaps the follow- 
ing winter. And to the struggles we made, and the crosses, 



255 

difficulties, and invectives we encountered, I repeat, that the pre- 
.-< ht. inhabitants of the city we benefited are actual strangers. 
Nor is it at all improbable that even this record of it will be re- 
garded as a vainglorious attempt to reawaken and perpetuate a 
remembrance of services which are either greatly exaggerated 
or altogether fictitious. 



256 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Post-mortem examination — Dr. Physick begins it — Its good effect — French Revolu- 
tion — It promotes the knowledge of medicine — Napoleon — Medical School of 
Paris — Physical sketch of the city of Philadelphia — Origin and nature of yellow 
fever — Non-contagion — Philadelphia Almshouse — Lectures — The first clinical 
course — Rittenhouse — Henry Moss — Dr. Smith — Physicians of Philadelphia — 
Rush alone a philosopher — Yellow fever again — Write anonymously — Am taken 
ill of the fever — Rush and Physick visit and attend me — Philadelphia Academy of 
Medicine — Deliver the semi-annual oration — Dr. Haygarth — Reply to his critique 
— Dr. Lettsom — Lost publications — Italian language — Prepare for teaching 
medicine. 

To my settlement in Philadelphia in the practice of my profes- 
sion I have already referred. I have stated also my reasons for 
having selected that in preference to other places where my 
business would have yielded me a more liberal income. I have 
mentioned, in like manner, the flattering encouragement with 
which my first professional services were met and rewarded. 
Nor have I concealed the special and remote, yet leading object 
I had in view in the choice of my place of residence and labors — 
the ultimate procurement of a medical professorship ; the scheme 
of self-discipline and preparation for that high and responsible 
office which I devised and imposed on myself, and the efforts I 
made to insure its accomplishment. 

The time of my settlement in Philadelphia is also deemed 
worthy of a few remarks ; because it may be regarded as the 
epoch of an important improvement in medical science. My 
allusion is, in part, to the treatment of different forms of autumnal 
fever, in which the abdominal viscera are deeply deranged, but 
more especially to post-mortem examinations. The reason why, 
in those respects, material and important changes were made was 
that, at that period, in and about Philadelphia, as well as in most 
other parts of the United States, in the West India Islands, and 
along the sea-coast of Mexico and South America, all febrile 
complaints assumed a character of unusual violence, malignity, 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 257 

and danger. And the reason why such complaints were thus 
characterized was that, in the several regions just indicated, there 
prevailed at the time a constitution of the atmosphere favorable to 
the production of pestilential diseases. Nor was that constitution 
of short duration. In the United States, having begun in 1792, 
it continued until 1805. And in most of the other places just 
mentioned, its continuance was much longer. 

In the city of Philadelphia, within the period commencing in 
the year 17!*3, and terminating in that of 1805, the pestilential 
yellow fever (the vomito Prieto of Spanish America) appeared 
sporadically every year, and epidemically seven times. During 
the time of its prevalence, I sustained, myself, three attacks of it 
— one of them, of which I shall speak hereafter, very severe, and 
the two others free alike from violence and danger. And I shall 
here remark, as the result of my own experience and observation, 
and as one of the characteristics of the disease, that second and 
third attacks of it (a fourth I never witnessed) were, with few ex- 
ceptions, light and tractable. Under a second attack, I never lost 
a patient but one ; and he, between the first and second, had been 
for several years a confirmed drunkard. His intemperance, there- 
fore, had so far revolutionized his system, as to take from it the 
comparative immunity it had derived from the first attack of the 
disease, and so shattered and debilitated it, as to render it unable 
to sustain a second one. Hence, assuming from its commence- 
ment an extremely malignant (now called a congestive) form, it 
terminated i'atallv in about thirty hours. 

The improvement in the treatment of yellow fever and other 
autumnal complaints, to which allusion has been made, consists 
in the use of purgative medicines, especially such of them as act 
on the liver, and excite it to a copious secretion of bile. Of those, 
it need hardly be said that calomel is the article on which reliance 
can be most confidently placed. And it was by its influence, as 
introduced and employed by Dr. Bush, that the unprecedented 
ravages o( the yellow fever of Philadelphia, in 170o, and subse- 
quently, were first arrested, and the consternation that it spread 
around it at the time, allayed. Previously to the use of that 
remedy, an attack of the complaint was but too justly regarded 
as little else than a prelude to the grave. But, in all cases in 
which calomel, early exhibited, acted freely and kindly on the 
17 



258 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

liver, producing copious discharges of bile, the complaint proved 
as tractable as any other form of autumnal fever. I have no 
remembrance, at present, of having ever lost a patient in yellow 
fever, or in any other modification of the complaint called bilious 
fever, in which I was able so to command the liver as to give rise 
to a liberal secretion of bile. And I have scores, perhaps even 
hundreds of times prevented formal attacks of yellow fever, by 
the production of artificial cholera morbus, marked by a copious 
evacuation of bile in patients beginning to feel the first approach 
of the pestilential complaint. The medicinal articles I employed 
for the purpose were calomel and tartar emetic. And the manner 
in which they produced the salutary issue was by converting cen- 
tripetal into centrifugal action — action from the central to the 
superficial, instead of from the superficial to the central organs 
of the body. No sooner did I perceive free discharges from the 
skin and the liver, of perspirable matter from the former, and 
bile from the latter, than I considered my patient secure from the 
menaced attack of yellow fever. Nor was I ever once disappointed 
in my expectation of the result. The course of action in the 
system was changed, the congestion of the liver and the other 
abdominal viscera prevented or removed, the pestilential attack 
averted, and the life of the patient very probably saved. Such 
were the salutary effects of well-timed and judicious evacuations 
from the skin and the alimentary canal — from the latter, as the 
issue of Dr. Eush's introduction of a bold use of calomel in pes- 
tilential yellow fever. I have reason to believe that the preven- 
tion of that disease, by artificial cholera morbus, was a mode of 
practice first and most employed by myself. I was certainly in- 
debted for it exclusively to my own observation and reflection on 
the pathology and general character of the complaint. To the 
time of its introduction, and the years in which I used-it, I shall 
perhaps hereafter refer. 

To the preceding remarks I shall only add, at present, that 
before the appearance of yellow fever in Philadelphia, in the year 
1793, calomel was very scantily used in the United States ; I be- 
lieve I might almost say throughout the world. From two, or 
two and a half to three, three and a half or four grains, were the 
usual doses of it ; and five grains were considered a full, if not an 
extra dose. And when, as heretofore mentioned, Dr. Eush re- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 259 

commended and administered it in doses of from ten to fifteen or 
even twenty grains, he was charged with the administration of it 
in "a dose for a horse" — " a murderous dose" — and a " devil of a 
dose" 1 1 Yet, at the present day, it is exhibited in much larger 
quantities, not only with safety, but with the most salutary result. 
And though, like other medicinal articles, it has been misused 
and made an instrument of mischief, yet do I hazard nothing in 
predicting that, unless time, with its concomitant discoveries and 
improvements, brings to light a substitute deemed more valuable, 
Calomel will never cease to be an article of paramour a in 

the materia medica of the enlightened physician. In truth, to 

remove it from tin: materia medica would be almost as disastrous 
to medicine as it \\<'uM i»- t" mechanics to strike iron from the 
list of metals. 

But tin: Paot that calomel may be used, in large doses, not only 
witli safety, but to great advantage, in the treatment of disc 
was not tin: only discovery to which the occurrence of yellow 
fever gave origin. Nor, signally beneficial as it was, did it en- 
tirely satisfy the physicians of Philadelphia. The reason is plain. 
Though it taught them somewhat respecting the therapeutics of 
(lie complaint, it threw but little, if any light on the philosophy 
of it. Nor could its philosophy be understood, without a know- 
ledge of the organ that constituted its seat, and the condition of 
that organ — points which could be ascertained only by means of 
dissection. Hence, during the prevalence of yellow fever in 
Philadelphia, in the year L798, those means were eagerly com- 
menced, before they had been resorted to (as far as I have l>een 
informed) in any other place ; certainly before they had been 
practised bo any useful extent. For, at that time, the seat and 
general pathology of the disease were points uninvestigated, and 
therefore unknown. 

Nor were the pottrtnorU m examinations confined to the yellow 
fever of 179,8. They were commenced during that calamity by 
Dr. l'hvsick. who was followed, in the investigation, by a Dr. 
t'athrall, who died a few years afterward, and regularly perse- 
l in by several other physicians (I being myself one of 
them), until the termination of the pestilential period in the year 
1805. Nor was the investigation pursued in Philadelphia alone. 
It extended to New York, the West Indies, and, as far as I am 



260 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

informed, to every other place where the disease made its appear- 
ance. But I wish it to be distinctly understood, and permanently 
borne in mind, that the credit of beginning the inspection is due 
to Dr. Physick. And the complaint being deemed at the time 
extremely contagious, I well remember that the process of dis- 
section was regarded even by physicians as replete with peril to 
the life of the operator. But, as no one sickened in consequence 
of it, I often, in subsequent debate, employed the fact as an argu- 
ment in proof of the non-contagious nature of the disease. 

In the United States, then, the long prevalence of a pestilential 
constitution of the atmosphere, and repeated returns of a pesti- 
lential disease, were instrumental in enlightening our physicians 
in two very important branches of their profession, pathology, 
and the treatment of malignant bilious fever. And a knowledge 
of the treatment of that disease, thus acquired, shed important 
light on the treatment of others. I do not say that, without the 
agency of such causes as the constitution of the atmosphere and 
the diseases referred to, the American Faculty would never have 
informed themselves on those two branches in an equal degree ; 
but I do say that they did not do so ; and I further say that 
there is no reason to believe they would have done so at that 
particular time, nor without some urgent motive of a like na- 
ture at any subsequent time. For there is nothing more true 
than that, in arduous and momentous cases, men act from either 
necessity, or from very powerful motives of self-interest. Never 
do they, from any other cause, engage in a difficult and doubtful 
contest — much less in a dangerous one. But, wherever the stake 
is important, they strive, provided it be necessary, first to inform 
themselves, and then to profit by the information acquired. In 
the present instance, the stake was the weightiest of sublunary 
concerns; being nothing less than health and life, with all their 
most highly valued concomitants and enjoyments. The prize, 
therefore, being great, the result of the effort made to retain it, 
and to escape the evil of being deprived of it, corresponded in 
degree. And such is the principle that governs the improve- 
ments of mankind in knowledge and practice. Such improve- 
ments are the issue of efforts made to prevent an impending, or 
remedy an existing evil, or {which amounts to nearly the same), 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 261 

to remove an obstacle opposed to our attainment of some good 
that presents itself. v 

This adaptation of things makes an important element in the 
wise, beautiful, and beneficent arrangement which pervades crea- 
tion, as far as our knowledge of it extends, and, in respect to all 
occurrences, completely "vindicates the ways of God to man." 

While pestilence was doing its work in America and the West 
India Islands, an evil of a very different character was raging in 
Europe, by which the knowledge of medicine, in all its brane 
was signally promoted. I allude to the French Kevolution. 

Napoleon was, as every military commander ought t<> !»■, ex- 
ceedingly careful of the health of his soldiers, that they might be 
the more powerful and dexterous in the use of their arms, lie 
had no objection against their dying in the Held of battle, when 
summoned to that effect by the fortune of war. But he was un- 
Wllling thai they should die of disease. And when they did so 
die, he compelled Ins physicians to give an accouut, unusually 
strict and accurate, of the seat, nature, and character of the com- 
plaints that destroyed them. That they might be the better pre- 
pared to do this, he enforced the performance of pot 
examinations, as often as they could possibly be made to comport 
with the nature of the service and movements of the troops. In 
the military hospitals, they were ordered to be made in the case 
of every death that occurred, whatever might be tin; name or 
description of the disease. ( lul of tins course of discipline, pur- 
sued lor years, by men of talents, ambition, and an enthus;. 
sense of duty, grew an amount of knowledge of morbid anatomy, 
and the pathology of every form of disease, far superior to what 
had ever been possessed at any former period, or by any other 

people. Hence the acknowledged ascendency of the Faculty in 
France, in the accuracy of their acquaintance with those two 
branches of the medical profession, over that of the Faculty of 
every other nation. And hence the unrivalled ability and splen- 
dor of the Parisian school of medicine, which owes its existence 
to that source: 1 mean to the practices pursued by Napoleon, 
and the Other great captains under his command, in the armies 
and military hospitals, during that scourge of Europe, the French 
Revolution. For, though somewhat more indirectly, yet was that 
wonderful man, in the capacity of General, First Consul, and 



262 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

Emperor, as certainly the founder of the Medical School of Paris, 
as h£ was the leader of the army that subjugated Italy. And but 
for the ultra development of his stupendous powers by the 
French Revolution, he could never have become what he was — 
Napoleon the Great — the achiever of wonders. Virtually, there- 
fore, to that moral earthquake of the civilized world is the Pa- 
risian School indebted for its being ; and, of course, for all it has 
yet done, or may hereafter do, until succeeded or supplanted by 
another establishment, more conformable to the spirit, and better 
suited to the exigencies of some future period. For that, in obe- 
dience to the mutability of all things, and to the ceaseless pro- 
gress of their improvement in condition, such period and such 
establishment will hereafter occur, can hardly be doubted. 

That the scheme of post-mortem inspection then, which had 
been so limitedly practised, until near the commencement of the 
present century, but which, since that period, has shed on medi- 
cine such a flood of light, had its origin in the United States, and 
immediately in Philadelphia (Dr. Physick being the first opera- 
tor), is not to be questioned. Perhaps I ought rather to say, that 
it had its revival in the United States : for it had been meagrely 
practised at an anterior period in several parts of Europe, but 
had fallen into comparative neglect. And the frightful ravages 
of the yellow fever produced that revival. I do not mean, how- 
ever, to insinuate that the army physicians and surgeons of 
France acquired any portion of their knowledge of it from the 
physicians of our own country. On the contrary, I presume 
that they did not. All I contend for is, that, in point of time, 
the Americans were in the lead ; and that they were induced to 
engage in it by the scourge of pestilence. Nor do I believe 
that they are surpassed in it at present by the Faculty of any 
nation, except that of France. But to return to my narrative. 

No sooner was my permanent establishment, as a practitioner 
of my profession, in the city of Philadelphia, completed, than I 
resolved to avail myself of every expedient I could command, to 
acquire a knowledge of the diseases of the place, as thorough and 
accurate as facts could render it. I therefore commenced, partly 
for my own information, and in part to qualify myself to inform 
the community through the medium of the press, a strict exami- 
nation of several topics, which I deemed alike appropriate and 



CHABLM CALDWELL, M. I). 263 

important to my standing and usefulness, not only in the 

lad, but in a much wider sphere, as a member of the 
at American Faculty, who were t iponaible in their 

reputation, for ;i want of either ability or industry, should they 
fail to raise the condition of medicine in our own country to a 
I with that of medicine in Europe. 
The principal topics of investigation which fir?t engaged my 
Qtion were, the matter of two memoirs. The title of the first 
is: .1 Physical Sketch of tin City 0/ Philadelphia, inter with 

General Remarkt, applicable to all Oitiee. Ol 

the second, the title is: Factt and 
•m, l Nature of )'■ How /■'■ 1 • r, a id I /' 

1,1 hn numbers. These two memoirs united, occupy two bnndred 
and thirty-five pages octal 9. 

In the first of them, are oontained remarks and reflections on 
all things thai presented themselves to toy observation, or that 
occurred to my recollection, calculated t<> prove either favorable 
or detrimental to the healthfulneas of large and populo 

Among those topics are included topograph}', climate, prevailing 
winds, vicissitudes in the atmosphere, water; cleanliness, and its 

opposites; ventilation, with the diet, clothing, pursuits, man' 
customs, and habits of the citizena 

In the sec. md, in addition to facts and considerations respecting 
the origin and nature of yellow fever, is inserted on ampler dis- 

jion of the non-contagiousness of thai complaint, and there- 
fore of its non-importability from foreign countries, than had 
previously appeared. And in the truth of the doctrine for wl 
1 then contended, 1 cntmue to believe. 

Persuaded as 1 was, by sundry considerations, that the pesti- 
lential constitution of the atmosphere, of which I have heretofore 
spoken, had not yet disappeared from Philadelphia and the 
region around it, 1 was vigilant in my observation ; evi- 

dences of its inorease ox decline. To extend as much a.- possible 
the Held of my observation, I exercised it not only in my private 
practice, but also in the Pennsylvania Hospital, and another public 
institution then within the city, called the Philadelphia Alms- 
house, but since that period removed to the west side of the 
Schuylkill, greatly enlarged, and afterward called t'.ie Bli .kley 
EospitaL Each of those institutions, more especially the latter, 



264 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

which was the chief receptacle of the sick paupers of the cityi 
furnished me abundantly with subjects well suited to the purposes 
of my inquiry. I visited them, therefore, with steadiness and 
regularity, during the summer vacation of the medical school, as 
well as during the period of its winter session. 

Having already acquired, among the pupils of the school, 
considerable notoriety, accompanied by no ordinary show of their 
attachment to me on account of my readiness, and their confident 
belief in my ability, to be useful to them by my comments on the 
cases of disease which I visited, numbers of them asked permission 
to attend me in my walks around the wards of those two insti- 
tutions. The permission was readily granted, from two motives: 
a desire to gratify the young men, and to be serviceable to them; 
and a belief that the project would ultimately ripen into clinical 
lectures, useful to myself as well as to my attendants. Nor did 
many years elapse until my belief was realized. The first course 
of clinical lectures in the Philadelphia Almshouse was delivered 
by myself, not long after the commencement of the present cen- 
tury, the precise year not being remembered. One of the most 
distinguished physicians now in Louisville was a pupil in my first 
class. I was then a member of the Faculty of that institution, and 
continued my lectures annually for several years, until deprived 
of my appointment in it on political grounds. Of the clinical 
instruction, therefore, so long delivered in that establishment, 
first as the Philadelphia Almshouse, and then as the Blockley 
Hospital, I was the beginner. And, like almost every other new 
effort that man can make to improve his own condition, and be 
useful to others, my enterprise met at first with vehement oppo- 
sition, simply because it was new, and calculated to benefit my 
reputation and standing; for to nothing was it either injurious or 
inconvenient, but more or less advantageous to everything that 
felt its influence, and in every light and bearing in which it could 
be viewed ; so true is it that envy and obloquy, if not also open 
hostility, pursue not only eminence itself, but the attempt to 
attain it. 

As the teacher of clinical practice, Dr. Paish prescribed and 
lectured to his pupils in the Pennsylvania Hospital twice every 
week during the session of the medical school, which extended 
then, as it does now, from the beginning of November until the 



CHAIU.ES CALDWELL. M. I>. 265 

close of February. I regularly visited the hospital on the same 
And after be had finished his tour in each ward. I en- 

! it and examined bui - I dee m ed most int 

and instructive. 1 was ah, mpanied, moreover, by a small 

but eery intelligent body of pupils, who obose to visit the patients 
with me, and quietly examine diem for themselves, rather than 
be i bjecl to the interruption and jostling of the crowd that fol- 
lows! Dr. Bush. Though I always, moreover, analyzed each 
■.-, and took Dotes at the request of the pupils, 1 never 
spoke of it to the young men around me within the hearing of 
the patient, but withheld my remarka until all my visits were 
finished, and then, at the request of the pupils, stated to them 
briefly my views of the complaints. Tins, though by no 

the most instructive mode of proi ling, was the i reet 

:,nd . ligible "ii.-. h satisfied the young men, to whom 1 commu- 
nicated my !■ or pursuing it; and it gave t" Dr. Rush no 

nid of dissatisfaction : because it did nut, intentionally on my 

part, interfere with his opinions. The entire sol ! session, 

therefore, of L796-7 1 had passed, much to my gratification, with- 
out any fresh oollision with that gentleman. 

on the death of Rittenhouae, while President of the Philo- 
sophical Society, Rush, as the Bpeoial orator of that institution 
appointed for the purpose, commemorated his character by s 
fervid eulogy. And the opolency of the tribute awarded by him 
to the illustrious dead would havt tnfinned by the a 

mation of the Sooiety and the public, had he not perverted it by 

certain dogmas and notions of his own. On a resolution intro- 
duced, that the Society should sanction the discourse by a vote 

of special and unqualified approval, opposition to it was made, 
and a debate arose, which threatened it at lirst with a vote of 
i. -i ion. And such would have been its fate had it not been 

bo altered, ohiefly at my own suggestion, for a reason which shall 
be rendered presently, as to fiee it from exceptionable specialities 
and details. And those characteristics of it related to sentiments 

which never OUghl to have found their way into the eul 
because they had no shadow of connection with the objects of the 
whose only immediate aim was. and still is. the promo- 
tion kA' science, and more remotely that of letters. B it the 
exceptionable points in the eulogy which had found their way 



266 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

into the resolution, instead of being promotive of either science 
or letters, favored and recommended party politics, and were vir- 
tually of a nature unfriendly to letters. To render it perfectly 
intelligible, and its bearing sufficiently clear, this statement re- 
quires explanation to the following effect. 

Dr. Eush was, in politics, a professed democrat, and believed 
that learning is not essential to intellectual distinction — but may 
be even preventive of it. Strangely paradoxical as it may be 
held, such was the position on that point which his eulogy con- 
tained. And as the issue of the handling of it, in the Philoso- 
phical Society, was such as to have some influence on the relation 
between Dr. Eush and myself, a few further remarks on it may 
not be altogether out of place. 

Dr. Eittenhouse was, in the widest latitude of the phrase, an 
"uneducated man" — uneducated, I mean, in the scholastic inter- 
pretation of that phrase, which purports instruction derived from 
printed books and other means, under the eye and government 
of teachers. To that form of instruction he was all but an entire 
stranger until his seventeenth year. Nor was he ever subse- 
quently more than a very moderate participant of it. Of his 
instruction, the Book of Nature was at first the only source ; he 
himself was his own and only teacher. And of that volume he 
studied first, most assiduously, and to the greatest advantage and 
extent, the chapters or sections that treat of mathematics, me- 
chanics, and astronomy. And the study of them he commenced 
as early as his thirteenth year, alone, while holding the handles 
of his father's plough, or during his engagements in other agri- 
cultural pursuits. And the surprising progress he made in the 
knowledge of them constitutes the most conclusive evidence of 
the assiduity and ability with which he cultivated them. 

The first product of the mechanical powers of Eittenhouse was 
a wooden clock, which he constructed without assistance, before 
he had ever examined or even seen a machine of the kind. Nor 
had he to use, in the construction of it, any instruments other 
than those which he found in his father's house and kitchen, and 
which had been procured for the common business of his farm. 
Not satisfied with the workmanship of this, he soon afterwards 
constructed another, of a much higher order, and very superior 
as a time-keeper. And the same was true of every additional 



f'HARLES CALDWELL, M.D. 267 

effort he made. It was superior in finish and contrivance to that 
which had preceded it And thus, while he still pursued the 
occupation, and performed the daily labors of a farmer, did he 
contrive to advance in the knowledge of this favorite branch of 

OCe, in which nature had formed liim as a model, until, from 
the lowly and modest young mechanic, acquainted only with the 
structure of a wooden clock, he became the bold and towering 
astronomer, scanning and comprehending the organization, move- 
ments, and laws of the heavenly bodies. And this mighty work 
of genius lie achieved almost exclusively by his own industry and 

everanoe, with but very little of either help or encouragement 
Iron i the labors of others, whether predecessors or contemporaries. 

Such was Rittenhouae. Yet not much more wonderful « 
as the distinguished and Belf-formed philosopher, then was the 
peculiar clement in Ins history assigned by l'r. Rash, in his 
• ■h1. le of the principal anuses of hie greatneaB. It was 

his want of Boholarship, i - not now before me; and 

I cannot, therefore, quote the doctor's precise words. But the 

nlantv and c\cn oddity of the idea 1 shall never forget ; and 
it was to this effect: " If," said the < I "Dr. Bittenhonse had 

been educated within the narrow walls of a college or academy, 
instead of the boundless fields of nature, the result would have 

conformed to the Limitednesa of the source, Oramped and crip- 
pled by his technical education, that mighty genius would then 

have probably spent his own life in some similar institution for 
the instruction of a few hoys, instead of traversing and exploring 

the solar system, in the character of an astronomer, for the in- 

M met ion of the world." 

Thus did Dr. Rush not only assert truly, that man may become 
illustrious without scholarship; he groundless.lv alleged that 
scholarship is a trammel to the mind, preventive of powerful 
action and lustre. And it was chiefly on account of its recogni- 
tion o( the correctness of that sentiment that the resolution alluded 
to was about to bo rejected. 

As the resolution stood, a vote to reject it would more or less 
involve, in the disapproval of the Society, the memory oi^ Dr. 
Rittenhouae in common with the character of the performance by 
Dr. Rush, And that consideration was painful to me, because, 
from the former gentleman I had re I lived very many flattering 



268 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

acts of courtesy and kindness, and not a few of special favoritism; 
and because the rejection of the resolution would virtually in- 
volve toward him some share of both injustice and disrespect. 

After an earnest conference, therefore, with the Honorable 
Judge McKean, the mover of the resolution, and the celebrated 
A. J. Dallas, both of whom had not only been on terms of intimacy 
and friendship with Dr. Eittenhouse, but had also concurred with 
him in political partyism, I induced them to have the resolution 
so modified as to compliment the deceased exclusively in the 
capacity of a philosopher ; that being the only light in which the 
Society, as a corporate body, was bound to regard him ; and the 
only one, perhaps, in which it could regard him with unanimity. 
And in that form, as far as I now remember, the vote in favor 
of it was unanimous. 

About this period appeared, in Philadelphia, a very striking 
phenomenon in the person of a negro man, a native of Maryland, 
named Henry Moss, alluded to in a former chapter ; a name which, 
for many years afterward, was almost as familiar to the readers of 
newspapers and other periodicals (so frequently was it recorded in 
them) as was that of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, or James 
Madison. He was nearly a full-blooded African, of the second or 
third generation in descent from his imported ancestors. His 
complexion was originally rather darker than that of most 
negroes, and his head, hair, nose, lips, and chin, as well as his 
hips, legs, and feet, had been cast in the common mould of his 
race. In fact, he was in all personal respects a highly finished 
African. 

At length (from what cause I know not), about the period, I 
think, of his mature manhood, such a change occurred in the 
action of his skin as to render it, a few spots excepted, entirely 
white. And where the skin of his head thus changed color, his 
hair did the same, and became soft and silky, but was still ex- 
ceedingly unlike the hair of a Caucasian. The few small spots 
on his person, which were still dark, were gradually whitening. 
In every respect the man enjoyed his customary health and* feel- 
ings, except that he was unusually sensitive to heat, cold, and 
friction. The sunshine of summer readily blistered his skin, the 
cold blasts of winter chilled it, and coarse linen shirts almost ex- 
coriated it. Hence he was obliged to make corresponding changes 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 269 

in lii.s clothes. All this was perfectly explicable. It arose from 
the removal, by absorption, of the rete mvcosum, the immediate 
i man complexion, and the chief protector of the cutis 
vera from beat, cold, friction, and other external impressions. 
Under this change of his complexion, Moss procured a comfort- 
able subsistence by exhibiting himself as a show. 

Anxious t>> know as much of his case as possible, I took him 
is iome measure under my care, procured fur him suitable lodg- 

ing and ■■>< mmodation, induced many persons to visit him, k<'pt 

him under my own strict and constant obi . and, by bis 
permis ion, and E lit reward, made on him such experi- 
ment my purpose. In this scheme 1 persevered t'< >r 
i.-il weeks, until I matured my views and accomplished my 
design as fully as 1 could; when, :is I then believed, and .-till be- 
lieve, 1 knew more of the me than all other persons 
either in Philadelphia or out of it. Por, as far as I then ki 
or vet know, I was the only person that ever made it philosophi- 
cally a subject of s] ial notice and experimental examination. 

While thousands visited and ga i I at SL - as an object of ca- 
riosity and wonder, I alone endeavored to make him a sou re 
scientific information. And 1 jo far succeeded in my project 
to be aboul to prepare on the subject a paper for the American 
Philosophical Society . 

For reasons heretofore adverted to, 1 declined the preparation 
of my intended paper, and subsequently used the matter it 
to contain in a review* of die Becond edition of the oelebi 

v by President Smith, of Princeton, Not . on the 

Coums of tfu Variety of ( /■ '■■'■■ Human 

§ Though that essay bears Btrong marks of the pen of 

a high bred and distinguished logician and Boholar, and though it 
d unbounded authority, and still p to incon- 

Biderable influence, especially with those who assumed the de- 
nomination of the mmunity, it is notwithstanding, in 
point of fact and foundation, one of the most fallacious produc- 
tions 1 have ever perused. It professes to be, and, from the 

* The Keuew of Dr. Smitli '■ BaatY, here referred t >. has been, with Urge 
tioni ud eoireetioM, repahliabed in a Tvlume entitled Tkougktt «<i the I'mty of the 
//Nin.m litre.— Not! »1 i»t Ki'lIOB. 



270 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

object it has in view, ought to be, a physiological work. Yet does 
it not, as far as my memory serves me, contain from the begin- 
ning to the end of it, a single physiological position that is not 
in some way defective or incorrect. More unfortunate still, very 
many of the facts and statements in it (or rather of what purports 
to be facts) are also incorrect. And all this has arisen from the 
hazard a writer incurs, and the error he commits in venturing to 
occupy ground he never surveyed, and attempting to handle sub- 
jects he never studied. As a scholar, a moralist, and a divine, 
the Eeverend Dr. Smith had few equals. But he was neither a 
naturalist nor a physiologist, because he had never given his 
attention to the branches of science which alone could entitle him 
to those appellations. Hence, by attempting to discuss and ex- 
pound subjects belonging to either of them, he was equally untrue 
to his own fame and to the cause of science. Not only, moreover, 
did he aid in the propagation of error ; he contributed materially 
to the ready reception and long retention of it. For so high were 
his popularity and standing as a man of talents, a scholar, and a 
divine, that, with the public at large, but more especially with 
the members of Presbyterianism, the religious denomination of 
which he was one of the most distinguished leaders, the authority 
of his name was a tower of strength to all his opinions. 

My critique was very copious and extensive : it appeared in 
several numbers, in two separate periodical publications. The 
whole of it is contained in the American Review, vol. ii. pp. 128 
to 166 ; and in the Portfolio, vol. iv., from p. 8, in four or five 
monthly numbers, to p. 457. 

That to the reverend and learned author of the essay, and his 
friends, I thought at the time of its publication, and still think, 
my critique gave much deeper and more lasting offence than 
it ought to have done, is true. True, though my language 
is, in every sentence and expression, courteous and gentlemanly, 
and though I bestow on the author many high encomiums, I do 
not deny that I object and censure plainly and unceremoniously 
where I find or consider the production faulty, and speak at times 
with unintentional keenness, and in a manner and spirit some- 
what sarcastic. Yet, by no portion of my review was Dr. Smith 
justified in the temper he manifested. Nor could he have thought 
himself so justified, had he only called to mind the fact that he had 



CHARLES CALI'WELT., M. D. 271 

in hii essay spoken in several places immeasurably more dis- 
BBspectfully towards Otben than I did in any other place toward 
liim. In truth, 1 repeat, that 1 neither spoke nor felt disrespect- 
fully toward him in a single instance; while in relation to his 
opponents, he Indulges himself in a very liberal style of invect- 
ive. 

I'i nb-nt Smith was a man of an uncommonly fine and com- 
ma! terior; nor in that was there anything wrong. lie 
was, moreover, fully conscious of the fact — another oonsideratioa 
which iii and of its. 'If \v; L s in no way amiss. But he indul 
hii consoiouaneai on the ■object to tin- production of hauteur in 
himself, and something resembling scorn towards others. And 
those two ungracious form-; of feeling he manifested too plainly 

in the i\ li-, lone, and spirit of his essay. His whole manner, in 

common with no small portion of bos matter, spoke a langtu 
the plain interpretation of which appears to be: "Autocracy in 
literature and science is my privilege. Nut only is it my right 
to reason and convince, but also to dictate and be ob . 

Thus ostentatious and imperial seemed to be the spirit and 

temper in whiofa he composed, very es] ially the essay I am 

considering, Be designed that composition as the main column 
of his fame, both literary and scientific. Hence his resentment 
at its being assailed, and his serious dread at the probability of 
itB being overthrown and utterly demolished. Hitherto he had 

a id, on the erection of it, nothing but compliments approach- 
ing adulation. Even by some of the most distinguished reli- 

lists of the day, in Europe as well as in America, he was 

hailed BS the BUOOeflBfu] umpire of the long Vexed (|1 I the 

unity o\' man. Nor, as far as 1 was then, or am now informed, 
did a single member oi' the medical profession, in any quarter of 

the globe, venture to employ either his tongue or his pen in 

opposition to his est 

Hence, one of the main reasons why I made my attack. The 
work, as 1 believed, being a gP - I :i speeious mass of fallacy, 

live o( inisehief proportioned to its popularity, and was 
therefore assailable, and ought to be assailed. But as all otl 
declined the assault, from either a dread of the ban of the church, 
lome other threatening obstacle, I resolved to make it my- 
self; and even rejoiced to be alone in it — rejoiced in availing 



272 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

myself of an opportunity to hazard my interest in an attempt to 
refute a popular error in science, while others timidly and time- 
serviDgly shrank from the enterprise, and sought their security 
under covert of inaction. And I have reason to believe that Dr. 
Smith felt fully as much surprise as resentment at being at- 
tacked, in what he considered his stronghold, by a man so young 
as I was, and, as he considered me, so inexperienced a writer. 
At first, therefore, he only despised my review as the product of 
a boy, or at least affected to do so ; and, on my promptly and most 
respectfully waiting on him the first time he visited Philadelphia 
after its publication, his reception of me was unbecoming in the 
extreme, and drew from me a return of deportment, which he 
was neither prepared to receive nor able to sustain without great 
perturbation. 

Dr. Smith being indisposed, left Philadelphia sooner than he 
had intended, and when I next heard from him he was laboring 
under a paralytic affection, which attacked him not long after his 
return to Princeton. That attack, however, did not prove fatal, 
though his recovery from it was never complete. After linger- 
ing, therefore, for some time (but how long I do not remember) 
under infirm health, he died, I think, of a second or third visita- 
tion of the same complaint. 

The impression made on the community by the death of any 
man of fine talents and literary attainments, long conspicuous at 
the head of an enlightened and powerful religious denomination, 
the president of an ancient and celebrated literary institution, 
and one of the most distinguished pulpit orators of the day, is 
always deep, extensive, and durable. But, for several reasons, 
the death of Dr. Smith produced such effects in a degree that 
was unusual. And one of those reasons was the reputed cause 
of the disease that destroyed him. By his family and immediate 
acquaintances, to whom his condition was most intimately known, 
his first attack of paralysis (the complaint of which he ultimately 
died) was attributed to the impression made on his mind by the 
severity of my review of his essay. With a bitterness, therefore, 
and a spirit of malignity not easily surpassed, I was charged with 
being essentially instrumental in his death. And, by means of 
that charge, strenuous and unprincipled efforts were made to 
render me unpopular, and injure me in my profession. A lead- 



rilAKLES CALDWELL, M.D. 273 

ing object of my accusers was to destroy me among the religious 
portion of the community, by affixing on me the charge of irre- 
ligion 01 infidelity, and thereby drawing down on me the ban of 
every I ' And t" thia general accusation, the 1' 

nans added the special one that, by rny infidelity paper, I 
bad brought to an untimely grave, their ablest preacher and most 
distinguished leader. 

To those charges, though tbey found their way into the news- 
papen of the day, I never replied I in a few short para- 

graphs; and in tb ed their truth, and, in support 

nl' my denial, oonl preferred against me with 

what I bad actually done. Ami that I did by quotations from 
- .11 'w, ami from the articles of attack on it, in the public 
priii 

1 was oharged with contradicting the M. tch of the 

creation of man, by denying the unity of the human race. To 
this my reply was brief and decisive. 

I did not deny, nor even question, the unity of the human race. 
I only denied the power of climate, the stab qf .and the 

manner <>/ living, to change oue variety of the human race into 
another. Yh are those the cam trhich Dr. Smith as- 

oribed that ohange. Ami 1 still not only adhere to my denial 
thai they are, or oaii be the causes of thai phenomenon; I pro- 
nounce the position to thai effect an actual absurdity. 

To these remarks in relation to Dr. Smith, I .-'nail only add, 
that his death is nol the only one that was maliciously attributed 
to the severity of my pen Many years after the date of that 
;t, 1 broughl to Philadelphia, introduced to the notice and 
Eavor of the citizens, recommended to respectable employment, 
and afterward patronised in various ways, until he was tirmly 
established in business, a young man of no common standing in 
talents and attainments, [n a short time, by the attention I 
bestowed on bis genera] literary and professional labors, but 
especially by the aid 1 gave him in the work of ntion, he 

became one of the most accomplished writers of his age in the 
city. And to distinguish himself in that capacity, his ambition 
was boundless. Nor, provided he might attain his end, was he 
troubled with obstinate scruples about the scheme he pursued, or 
the principles oa which he acted. Forgetful of bygone favors, 
IS 



274 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

and feeling himself the god of his own idolatry, he became wholly 
regardless of all other persons. In that state of mind, he resolved 
to try his strength in some case where success would give him 
celebrity, and in which even a failure would not be inglorious. 
And his first and most ardent aspiration was to shine in a con- 
demnatory critical review of some popular production. 

And while he was thus panting in search of such an arena, 
in which to break a lance with a suitable champion, Delaplaine's 
Repository of the Lives and Portraits of Distinguished American 
Characters — a production of my own pen — was issued from the 
press. 

On that work, therefore, the gentleman pounced, with great 
eagerness, like a vulture on his prey. And, to do him justice, 
he struck a blow which told with some effect — but did not prove 
fatal. His critique contained some truth, but much more plausi- 
bility and artifice, well fitted in their nature to be popular with 
" the million," and mischievous in their influence. 

Under such circumstances, I felt some alarm for the fate of the 
Repository. In the sale of that work, I had no pecuniary interest, 
having received, for the composition of it, a stipulated sum. But 
with the proprietor and publisher, the case was very different. 
He had at stake a large sum of money ; and I had in jeopardy 
some reputation. It comported, therefore, with my ambition no 
less than with my duty, to make a strenuous effort for the preser- 
vation of both — each to its true owner — and not suffer them to 
be made the sport of a wanton and reckless assailant, from no 
more honorable or laudable motive than to gain distinction at 
the expense of a benefactor. And I perceived but one scheme 
of design and action through which I could, with any probable 
certainty, achieve success. And that was to make an attack on 
the critic, who had aspersed the Repository, and shatter his pre- 
tension to either judgment or taste, in critical composition. In 
common cases, I neither would nor could have formed a resolu- 
tion to be so merciless and unsparing. A sentiment of benevolence 
would have pleaded for the guilty, and conscience would have 
interposed her authoritative prohibition. But in the present 
case, my nature was changed. I had but one sentiment and one 
determination — and their mandate was to retaliate and demolish. 
The heartless and base ingratitude of the critic had stifled the 



CHARLES CALDWKLL, m. r>. 275 

voice of every feeling, save that of retributive justice, and irre- 
iled the Fate of the offender. To work, thi I 

♦rent, without a touch of companion to soften mj ■ or 

mitigate my action. And, without dealing in details, I shall only 
amy that my work was speedily and effectually done. Prostrate 
b spirit, and bankrupt in hope, he suddenly and forever disap- 
peared from the city, the scene of his discomfiture and irreme- 
diable disgrace. The next, and last information I rec 

lecting bim was from a newspaper paragraph announcing his 
death in a distant State, to which he appeared to have retired ■ 
from himself 

From the time <>f my regular commencement of the practice of 
my profession, in Philadelphia, until the year 1797, nothing 
worthy of special notice occurred in either the character or the 
amount of disease in the place. True, most febrile affections 
were marked more or li n deeply by the pestilential constil 
of the atmosphere then prevailing; but as, with 
tinns, all cases wen marked in nearly the same manner 
degree, the net that they were thus marked at all ceased at 
length to attract attention, except from those physicians who 
exercised their minds in the higher branches of medical philo- 
sophy. And they were not numerous. For, as related ton 
oal Bcience in the true interpretation of the phrase, Philadelphia 
\\a<, at that time, very different iron, what she is at present She 

contained a Ily number of very respectable practitioners of 

medicine; but was very meagrely supplied with medical ph 

sophcrs. In Ins Sedulous and unwearied effort to collet : 
Dr. Rush had an undoubted claim to that title. But, iii hi- 
of facts, his claim to n wa> le~s dcei led. Instead of making tl i 
the groundwork of his doctrines, he allowed his doctrines to he 
too often the controllers and modifiers of them. In truth, he 
made his facts, at times, to suit his visionary pnrj* net 1 if 

not actually yield to his doctrines. This I do not allege that he 
did by design; he did it through the delusion thro 1 

him by Ins inordinate devoted ness to theory and hyp 
I of theory and hypothesis his fancy was a hotbed— ] - 
fancy, not his intellect deliberately exercised. 

1 have already stated that there were in Philadelphia, at the 
time of which 1 am speaking, a, number of other physicians of 



276 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

great respectability and skill in the treatment of disease. But, Dr. 
Eush excepted, there was not one who had any claim to the title 
of a medical philosopher. Nor, strictly speaking, did any one 
else aspire to the title, or even understand perhaps distinctly its 
true and very comprehensive import. To the prevailing pestilen- 
tial constitution of the atmosphere, therefore, but little regard of 
any description was paid. And even of those who occasionally 
referred to it in conversation, not a few disbelieved in its reality, 
and spoke of it only as a notion. True, all physicians, who had 
been for any length of time engaged in practice, perceived that 
most febrile affections were very unusually severe and obstinate. 
But, wanting in philosophy as they were, they regarded that as 
an insulated fact, without attributing it to any general cause. 
The fears of the citizens, therefore, were not awakened by it. 

As the summer of 1797, however, marked by heat unusually 
intense, advanced toward the solstice, fevers began to assume an 
aspect and an unmanageableness which could not fail to attract 
notice and excite alarm. As appearances grew more threatening, 
and rumors respecting disease and occasional death from it more 
exaggerated and disquieting, a number of families, recollecting 
the scenes of 1798, and dreading a return of something like them, 
began to prepare for a retreat into the country. But no very 
frightful or strongly marked event occurred until about the 
tenth of August, when an open and fierce explosion of yellow 
fever took place, and scattered the citizens into the country like 
chaff. All was instantly dismay, hurry, and headlong confusion, 
for the disease came on with uncommon suddenness. From the 
immediate neighborhood in which it appeared, every family t 
possessed of the requisite means, sought safety in' flight. But a 
large proportion, unprepared for the emergency, were obliged 
to remain in the city, subject to the dangers and terrors of the 
pestilence. And I need hardly add, that the dread they expe- 
rienced, until mitigated by time, was itself a very serious and 
distressing calamity. Nor can a doubt be admitted that it con- 
tributed materially to the production of the complaint. For it is 
a well-known fact, that, on such occasions, all other things being 
alike, those who are most timid most frequently suffer. The 
reason is plain. In instances of the kind, the brain and nerves 
are the protectors of the system. That condition then which 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 277 

confers on them the g mnount of strength and firmness of 

oe, best fit- tliem to b it protectors. But fear is 

the most debilitating of passions, and courage the most strength- 
ening. Those persons, therefore, who possess the latter attribute 
are constantly shielded ; while tho re unfortunately sub- 

ject to the former, being constantly exposed defenceless to 
danger, can hardly foil to be sufferers from it. 

Fellow fever always made its first appearance in some spot or 
;hborhood near the shore of the river Delaware; in moro 
technical language, in the vicinity of the docks and wharves. 
Ami, in the summer of L707, its first oases occurred in a neigh- 
borhood adjoining that where I resided. Eence, from its b 

lown and remembered that I had seen much of the 
disease, and as it was further known thai I had no dread of its 
contagion, while most of tin' other physicians in tlie neighbor- 
hood it had invaded were flying <>r had already fled from it into 
the country for Bafety for these, and perhaps other reae i -. I 
was immediately in the midsl - a practitioner, doing battle 

with it, with all the industry, ardor, and ability I could bring to 
the oonte t 

The complaint b> >ngly marked by high inflammatory 

action, with great derangement of the abdominal viscera, bleed- 
. ami blistering were the remedies on which 1 prin- 
cipally relied. And these I pushed with boldness in most c 
and in Borne to an extent that what are termed cautions and safe 
family physicians (God bless the title 1), who are often more in1 
.hi preserving their own reputation than the lives of their 
patients, would haw deemed hazardous. But, paying to the first 
of these considerations no special regard, my attention was 
directed exclusively to the latter — and my • illy justified 

my boldness. Nor was 1 less busy and intrepid with my pen 
than 1 was with my lancet, calomel, and cantharides. Dr. B 
beiii,; regarded as the author and chief patron of this mode of 
treatment, seemed to be held by the public press accountable for 
every death that occurred where it was practised. And lie was 
now the object v\' brutish invective, slander, and abuse, by the 
Den of almost every medical scribbler in the city. I say slander, 
because 1 knew that many if not most of tV inst him 

Mere utterly groundless, and forged exclusively for purposes of 



278 AUTOBIOGEAPHY OF 

mischief. la fact, there appeared to be urged agaiust him a war 
of extermination. And not a pen of the least efficiency came to 
the rescue. 

For several reasons, but principally for two, this state of things 
soon became to me intolerable. In the first place, Dr. Eush, as 
I believed then, and still believe, was contending for the right, 
in both practice and theory ; by which latter term I allude to his 
doctrine of domestic origin. To defeat and injure him, therefore, 
would be tantamount to an injury to the community at large. 
And in the second place, let the issue be what it might, and the 
principle involved what it might, to witness a contest of dozens 
against one, without some sort of interference in behalf of the 
oppressed, was an act cold-hearted, illiberal, and unmanly, from 
which my nature recoiled, with sentiments akin to contempt and 
abhorrence. True, Dr. Eush was not my friend. But no matter 
for that. In the present case he was much more. He M'as the 
friend of truth, and of his race, and deserved to be supported by 
every man of honor and virtue. Besides, I had long since de- 
termined never to allow private feeling to impede the discharge 
of public duty. Hence, in resolving to become, in the existing 
contest, an auxiliary of Dr. Eush, I obeyed at once the impulse 
of magnanimity and benevolence, in common with the. decision of 
reason and the mandate of conscience. I probably, moreover, 
(ambitious of distinction as I was), entertained a belief that it 
would be deemed in me more high-minded and chivalrous to 
come to the rescue of a man in difficulty, who was not friendly 
to me, than of one who was. I resolved, moreover, at the same 
time, that could that purpose be effected, the doctor should remain 
a stranger to the name of his assistant. 

My first preparatory act in aid of that design was, to engage 
the editor of the most popular newspaper in Philadelphia to 
publish for me two articles every week, amounting each to at least 
a column, under a solemn pledge that my name should not be 
divulged, except with my own consent, or to protect him from 
personal responsibility for anything I might write. My next act, 
designed for the attainment of the same end, was to disguise my 
handwriting, and to deviate as far as practicable from my usual 
style and manner in composition. 

My preliminary measures being completed, I commenced my 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 279 

enterprise; and the drat two articles I published were of a cha- 
MCtex SO Dew, bold, and decided, and so plausible, at least in the 
opinion <>f the public, as to give to the controversy a cast alto- 
gether novel, and much more interesting and attractive than any- 
thing that bad heretofore appeared on the subject. In one respect 
in particular, the papers I wrote produced precisely the effect I 
desired. They drew the current of the daily slanders through 
the public press wry much from Dr. Bosh, thus giving him a 
little respite from the galling annoyance he experienced. 

Meanwhile, to detect the authorship of the papers, no eflbrt 
ipared ; but all to no purpose. So entirely bad I succeeded 
in every measure, the disguise of my style (mucb the most diffl- 
eult) not excepted, thai the incognito was in violately preserved 
all accidents and devices, until disclosed by an attack of 
yellow fever which I ultimately sustained. And the actual dis- 
covery was made by Dr. Rush himi 

At the time when my discussion had reached the very zenith 
of its interest, and a paper on a point of great moment being pro- 
mised on the following Thursday (Monday and Thursday being 
the days on which I published), the morning designated arrived, 
and, msicad of the article promised and looked for, the paper 
that was to be the medium of its communication contained a I 
paragraph, stating thai indisposition had prevented the writer 
from preparing the promised manuscript, and would probably 
continue such prevention for some time. 

l>r. Bush had previously tried several expedients to draw from 
the editor of the newspaper (whose family physician he was) the 
same of his defender — but without \ - oer, however, 

had the brief note of that morning arrested his attention than he 
threw from him the paper, and hastened to the gentleman again, 
Ived to be no longer baffled iii his inquiry. Finding him in 
his office, he made a formal and uncompromising demand of the 
name of the writer, on a plea and in terms which the editor did 
not tind it an easy task to resist. 

" We have Ion.'," said the doctor to the gentleman, "been on 
the friendliest terms; but it will be impossible for me to hold 
such terms with you any longer, if. without a reason stronger 
than 1 caw imagine, you withhold from me the privilege and 
opportunity of performing what I regard as one of my highest 



280 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

and most imperative duties — the rendering of all the aid in my 
power toward the preservation of the life of the gentleman whose 
name you conceal. His complaint no doubt is yellow fever. In 
the present condition of the city, it can be nothing else. I have, 
as you know, had much experience in that disease. You believe 
that I can treat it more successfully than any other physician in 
the place, else you would not employ me. Why then do you 
prevent me from hastening to the place and doing all I can to save 
life?" 

""Why really, doctor," said the editor, "this is an appeal to 
the best and strongest feelings of my nature. And I cannot 
deny that it is also perfectly reasonable. I am as anxious, too, to 
save the young gentleman's life as you can be; because I am 
fully sensible of its value. But what am I to do ? He drew from 
me a promise as solemn as your remonstrance, that I would con- 
ceal his name from every one, and more especially from you.'' 
" Conceal his name more especially from me ?" " Even so, sir.'' 
" Then, sir, you have violated no secret — yet I know who he is, 
and thought I knew from the beginning. But for the disguise of 
his style, I would have been confident of it — and I am confident." 

And in a few minutes afterward, my attending physician, a young 
friend who had just left my chamber, returned with a request 
from Dr. Bush and Dr. Physick that, if not inconvenient, they 
might be allowed to pay their respects to me. "Is it," I replied 
to my physician, "agreeable to you, sir, that they be admitted?" 
"Perfectly so, sir; I wish it, and as I know they are desirous of it, 
I hope you will invite them, or allow me to invite them, to visit 
you with me, not as mere consulting but as attending phy- 
sicians." " Before I reply to your request, sir, do me the favor 
to answer a plain question which I shall propose. In rnaking 
that request, which of the two has spoken most sincerely and 
earnestly, your judgment or your modesty ?" " My judgment, sir, 
has spoken alone ; modesty having taken no part in the decision." 
" Then, sir, regulate the matter according to your views of expe- 
dience and propriety : I repose as much confidence in your treat- 
ment of my case as I shall do in that of the two gentlemen who 
are waiting below." "I do not," was his reply; and, quitting the 
room for a few minutes, he returned accompanied by the two 
physicians. 



nr.\i:i,Ks OALDWBX, M. V. 281 

On entering my chamber, Dr. Physick, one of the most sing 
hearted and unostentatious of men, took me by the hand, gave 
me a fnmk an'l friendly salutation; and with him, there r 
mony ended. Bnt not so with I>r. Bush; he, though with unusual 
gentlrin-- >^ and in a soft undertone, lest the sound of his 

voice should excite my system and alter my pulse, exercised 

td me the whole resources of his amenity and courtesy, which 
were all but boundli --: for be was among the n wed men 

of thai polished age. Be paid me some of the most bighwro 
but delicate compliments his feccy oould frat 

After a brief examination into the condition of my svstem> 
they were about I forthepurpo rotation, wh< I 

said in them: "Gentlemen, I am about to make a request, which 
1 know you will deem singular. And I • ... 

Bui if you should no) consider it altogether inadmissible, I hope 

will indulge me in it. When in ; 
my case, as you are now, do i vor to -it in council on it 

in this room here, by my bedsid< — and speak on it ■ 
ai yon would, in both matter and manner, were you in another 
room beyond my hearing, I wish to convince von on two 
points- thai 1 know some Little about my own case, and thai 1 

have no dread Of death. 

•■ \ i p cts the firsl point, although I (eel and know that 
sioknesi is severe, and although 1 am apprehensive that 
think it dangerous, yet, let me tell you, that unless some very 
unlooked-for accident occur, 1 shall recover. True, i am wi 

but 1 have not a Bingle feeling that speaks of death. Several 

■ all appearance much worse and more dangerous, 
terminated favorably under my own treatment. And should any 
oircumstanoe arise to render you doubtful respecting the m 
to be employe, 1, let me know it. and 1 may very 
something from my own feeling thai may aid you in your deci- 
sion. But having said this, let me add, that whatever suggestion 
1 may make, will be only a suggestion. All your prescriptions 
and directions shall he punctiliously observed. 

"To convince yon that I have no dread of death, should my 

become very threatening, and. in your opinion, portend a 

fetal issue; withhold from me none of your appreh but 

let me know the worst; and when you make to me the most 



282 AUTOBIOGEAPHY OF 

alarming disclosure, do so with your finger on my pulse ; and, 
unless I judge deceptively of rny firmness, you will find it un- 
moved." 

The only remark made in reply was by Dr. Rush, who said 
that the request was new, and might require a little reflection 
and conference, before a satisfactory decision on it could be had. 
And, from a significant look that passed between him and Dr. 
Physick, I felt inclined to doubt whether they did not consider 
me slightly delirious. Nor would it be perhaps at all surprising, 
if such was their opinion. Be that matter, however, as it might, 
without formally either granting or refusing my request, they 
acted much in conformity to it ; for they never retired from my 
chamber to deliberate on their prescription. And though my 
case proved extremely obstinate, not to say formidable, and re- 
quired for its subdual very vigorous treatment, yet, in about 
fifteen days from its commencement, I had recommenced the 
exercise of my pen, and in twenty was in the streets, engaged in 
active contest with the disease. With a single exception, my 
subsequent health was perfectly sound. The mercury employed 
did not fairly salivate me ; but it produced an intractable affec- 
tion of my gums and maxillary bones, which never ceased to 
annoy me until it had gradually deprived me of all my teeth, 
and compelled me to resort to a full set of artificial ones. The 
process by which the removal of my teeth was effected was the 
absorption of those parts of the maxillary bones which formed 
their sockets and held them in their places. And in its progress 
it was very slow, commencing in the year 1797 or 98, and being 
completed in 1836. Yet did it in no degree injure my general 
health, or communicate to my breath an unpleasant odor. I 
consulted for it, to no useful purpose, the ablest dentists in the 
United States, England, and France. It set at defiance every 
effort to arrest it, until it had done its work in its own way and 
its own time. Like an irresistible burning, it ceased to consume 
only with the destruction of the last monad of consumable matter. 

The yellow fever of 1797 having swept with great mortality 
over a portion of Philadelphia, and spread consternation through- 
out the whole of it, closed its ravages, like that of 1793, at the 
commencement of cool weather, iu the month of November. 
During the prevalence of it, I had been benefited in several re- 



CUARLKd CALDWELL, M.D. 288 

spccts by my res and exertions. Iliad extended materi- 

ally the sphere of rny business, improved my reputation as a 
writer and practitioner, an 1. aa far as appearances were concerned, 
and with as much reality as I ever expected, had amotbered my 
misunderstanding with l»r. Bush — and I had done so in a manner 
triumphantly in my favor. 

• ii after the termination of the yellow fever, those physi- 
oiana who believed it to be a du origin, d 

mined to place that doctrin i a more solid and stal 

than that on which it had heretofore rei maded, there! 

that the co operation of a body of men, united by ac imon bond, 

would be more powerful in its action toward the attainment of 
that end than the labors of the tame Dumber ol individuals in an 
in ulated capacity, a society was instituted, called the Academy 
of Medicine, <>r the Philadelphia Academy of Medioine, 
which. Nor do 1 remember precisely who were it , but 

believe that Dr. Physiok was its president, and 1 myself one of 

its \ presidents. Bui 1 | rfectly remember that 1 was put- 

ed bj il to vi lil Nev< J< ra j . and inquire int< » the origin of .i few 
oases of yellow fever thai had made- their appearance near Pi 
ton and elsewhere in that State. And I further remember b 
unable to trace them to an j having the slightest tion 

with a E lountry. Their origin was as clearly dom< 

as is thai of intermitting fever or common oatarrb. 

In the years IT'.'T and IT'. 1 ^, tin- Academy published its 71 
actions, containing a large amount of authentic evidence in \ 
of the Bame doctrine To those publications my own pen, I well 
remember, liberally contributed; but precisely to what extent I 
do no! remember. Nor have 1 any recollection of either the 
matt or form of them — whether they appeared in the cha- 

racter of a volume, or of a pamphlet They may be seen, I pre- 
sume, in the library of the Pennsylvania Hospital; but where else 
1 do not know. 

One o( the by-laws of the Academy required the delivery "fan 
address to it, every >ix months, on a medical subject, by one of 
its members appointed for that purpose As the institution ex- 
isted only for a short time, but one address of the sort was 
delivered; and that duty was performed by myself. Of the 
address I have no CO] hand to refer to, nor do I remember of 



284 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

aught but the following particulars. It was of course on a medi- 
cal subject; and it treated somewhat of the laws of epidemic 
diseases ; it was highly praised on its delivery by Dr. Physick ; 
it was published in pamphlet form by the Academy ; I transmit- 
ted a copy of it through Dr. Lettsom, of London, with whom I 
regularly corresponded, to Dr. Haygarth, of Bath; and, by the 
latter gentleman it was criticized so unjustly, and under so many 
misrepresentations of its contents, that I replied to his tirade, in 
a pamphlet so burning and sarcastic, that he never forgave me, 
but writhed under the lashing I bestowed on him till the end of 
his life. My friend Dr. Lettsom also complained somewhat of my 
severity, and gave as a reason of his dissatisfaction, that Dr. 
Haygarth was an old man, while I was quite a young one ; and 
that I ought therefore to have remembered his asre, and been 
more lenient and respectful to him. 

To this I replied that, as Dr. Haygarth, in his criticism, had 
observed towards me, as a young man, neither delicacy, decency, 
nor truth, I could perceive no claim he had on me to do homage 
to his advanced age, which, in my own opinion, instead of dimi- 
nishing or in any way palliating, not a little augmented and 
aggravated his fault. " When an old man," said I, " employs 
language, and perpetrates actions of any sort unworthy of his 
years, and especially when he violates truth merely for the sake 
of temporarily succeeding in some sinister purpose, he ought, for 
the sake of the example, to be severely rebuked by the young as 
well as the old, to prevent in others of his years a line of conduct 
equally reprehensible. It is not a large count of years; it is the 
becoming amount of dignified sobriety, decorum, and morality 
that consecrates age and renders it venerable." Though Dr. 
Lettsom did not object to the soundness of this reasoning, he still 
contended that it was the duty of youth to respect age, and there 
the matter rested. Not long afterward Dr. Haygarth died ; and 
that closed the correspondence respecting him between Dr. Lett- 
som and myself. I shall only add that, some years ago, I obtained 
from the Pennsylvania Hospital a copy of my Semiannual Ad- 
dress to the Academy of Medicine, and a manuscript copy from 
that is now in my cabinet, one of the many slight reminiscences 
of former times. 

From the period of which I am now treating until the year 



OHABLM CAJ.I'WELL, M. D. 285 

L819, when I migrated by invitation to the State of Kentucky, 
I prepared and pronounced a very large proportion of the public 
orations, whether literary or scientific, eulogistic or political, that 
were delivered by appointment and published in the city of Phila- 
delphia. Of these production I i 'lessly neglected to make 
any collection, and let them fly from me like the leaves from the 
niMiith of Sybil's cave, until most of them arc lost, and many of 
them forgotten. I have a fisw of them bound np in two or three 
volumes; but the rest arc scattered by my own improvidi 
never to dned And 1 have, through like heed 

lost many other compositions which I now regret 
what he writes and publishes is a duty every author owes to 
himself, and should faithfully My addresses that I 

havi d and published in the West, will be noticed in a 

t of this narrati i 
Could the enumeration be accurately made, it would a< I 
prise me Bhould it appeal- that, since the year L798 or '99, I have 
delivered, by appointment, ■■ c number of public addra 

which afterward b_\ i appeared in print, than any other 

man in the United States. And one of them (that on "Quaran- 
tines") was prepared at no common share of trouble, labor, and 
consumption of time As regular quarantines had their b 
ning in Italy. 1 first acquired my kno [| than lan- 

guage to qualify myself to read the original treatises on them 
which had not been translated. True, the lanj 
and .-till is, in other r useful to me. But my knowledge 

of it was first acquired tor the purpose here Btal 

T have already observed that. _. I aspired to the post 

o\' a public teacher of medicine from the time of the commence* 
ment of my pupilage in the University of Pennsylvania And, 
from that early period o\' my life, 1 labored assiduously for the 
era! acquisition of knowledge to tit me for the purpose. But 
1 did not cuter on special preparations until the beginning of the 
present century. I then began in earn.-' - .• not a 

Course, in the usual acceptation of the term, but a scries of lec- 
tures on -elect subjects. And in making my select! ve a 
preference to those that afforded an ample field for discussion by 
being entangled in difficulty, and therefore immersed in some 
degree of uncertainty and doubt. And not only did I compose 



286 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

my lectures, I also habituated myself to read them, mostly 
alone, but at times in presence of a judge, who was invited to 
offer his remarks on my reading with perfect frankness, and as 
much severity as he might choose to incorporate with them ; be- 
cause I did not seek flattery in them, but the means of improve- 
ment. Nor did I rest content with merely composing and reading 
my lectures ; because those two modes of preparation were not 
alone sufficient to fit me for the purpose I had in view. I also 
offered on parts of them extemporary comments, which, when 
judiciously made, I regarded as an important ingredient in the 
entire intelligibility and usefulness of a lecture. My habits of 
discussion and debate I sedulously cultivated in the Medical 
Society. I also, as a thing of course, looked carefully into such 
high standard works in medicine as I was able to procure. 

Such was the course of preparation and improvement which I 
adopted to fit myself for the task of public teaching. And I 
pursued it steadily for ten years before I deemed myself qualified 
to offer myself to a class as a public instructor. And I should 
have deemed myself wanting in a sentiment of dignity and a 
sense of character toward myself, and of justice and honesty 
toward the young men who attended and listened to me, had I 
offered myself to them in the capacity of- an instructor, without 
such preparation. 

"At quantum tempora moresque mutantur." 

But times and customs, how signally changed! Young men 
begin to lecture now without a single year of preparation — I 
mean special preparation. Yet is that form of self-discipline and 
training as essential as knowledge itself to those who are ambitious 
to acquit themselves with credit and usefulness in the capacity of 
public teachers of medicine. 

True, on the score of the facility of medical instruction, such 
are the advantages of the present time over those of the close of 
the last and commencement of the present century, that as much 
of the mere technicals of medicine can be acquired now in two 
years as could at that period in four. But no amount of them 
that time and industry can accumulate is at all calculated to make 
even a respectable, much less an eminent teacher, without the aid 
of the literature, science, and discipline, to which I have referred. 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 2S7 

And to tlic attainment of the latter, time and industry are as 
atial novj as they were in the year 1800 — or at any other 
period. A man destitute of medical literature and . and 

undisciplined in composition, reading and .-peaking, seated in the 
chair of a medical professor, constitutes one of the fittest of 
''objects f>r scorn to point her alow onmoving finger at." and 
for all wrii qualified and high-minded teachers to treat with 

contempt. 



288 AUTOBIOGKAPHY OF 



CHAPTEE IX. 

Prizes — Never lost one — Dr. Rush unfriendly — A prophecy — Brunonian theory of 
life — A public speech — Dr. Coxe — A scene in his lecture-room — Vitality of the 
blood — Dr. Darwin, Currie, Beddoes, and Lettsom — Correspondents — American 
medical independence. 

When" a physician enters on the business of his profession, as 
I had already done, at the period of which I am about to speak, 
provided, he be possessed of a well-balanced, enlightened, and 
comprehensive mind, he must be supposed to have in view the 
attainment of some leading and favorite object, corresponding to 
the peculiar cast of his character. And to that his attention is 
chiefly directed. A desire to effect the attainment of it, consti- 
tuting as it does his " ruling passion," all other objects yield to it 
a preference. 

From what has been already stated in preceding parts of this 
narrative, my own aim, at the period of which I am speaking, is 
sufficiently known. It was to embody, as far as practicable, in 
my professional character, all the most useful qualifications of the 
physician, whether scientific, practical, or literary, and also the 
more rare and showy ones of distinction in composition, public 
reading and public speaking. It was that of a young man, proud, 
self-dependent, highly ambitious, sanguine at least, if not self- 
confident, and deliberately resolved to rise in his career to the 
summit of his profession, or to sink under the effort. 

Hence I feel justified in saying (which I do, not from motives 
of vanity or self-conceit, but from a conviction that, in that re- 
spect, my life affords an example, which young men may profit- 
ably follow) that never, either before or since my graduation in 
medicine, have I lost a prize for which I have contended. And 
my contests have not been very limited in either number or 
arduousness. Nor have I reason to believe that my success arose 
in any case from the superiority of my intellect over that of my 
competitors. It arose, if not exclusively, at least principally, 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 289 

from my superiority in industry, and resolution, energy, firmness, 
nn<l unyielding perseverance. And to a great extent, it' not 
without limit, those qualities arc means at the command -of the 
many ; while mental superiority is possessed only by the few. 

Saving passed in Safety (with practical success in the business 
of my profession sufficiently encouraging, and not without a 
moderate iocreaseof professional reputation) through two other 
epidemical visitations of Philadelphia by yellow fever (the ter- 
rible one of 1798, and the less terrible one of 1791*), my pro 
(<{' special preparation for giving medieal instruction by public 
lectures was commenced at the close of the l;itt«r period. Nor, 
to the young man of the present day, when thii ion with 

:i locomotive celerity, which all but annihilates both time and 

distance, can that pr ss Bail to appear somewhat formidably 

tedious, li could not then, as now, be completed in a short 
period of harried and superficial study. By me at least it was 

not thus completed. Jt was uninterruptedly and laboriously 
Continued during the space of ten years. True, within that 
space I delivered to pupils, by invitation, many addresses 00 

medical subjects. But ten entire years had elapsed, before I 

ventured to call together a class to listen to mv lectures fox the 

purpose of instruction, 

Though, in my Philadelphia lectures, 1 broached many senti- 
ments, and presented and defended many views in direct opposi- 
tion to those entertained and inculcated by Dr. Hush; yet, in all 
Oases, 1 spoke at first of his opinions SO courteously and respect- 
fully, and of himself so oomplimentarily, that it was hardly" possible 
for him to except to anything] uttered. Vet did I plainly perceive 
that he was not satisfied with the stlf-resoojoe dootrines I irre- 
spectively taught, and the independent course I pursued in 
relation to them. Nor could 1 fail to be made sensible that our 

intercourse beoams leas and loss cordial. Still, however, did the 

doctor occasionally refer to the subject in such a way, as to pre- 
sent to DM the prospect that, in case of certain contingencies, the 
door.- v\' the Medical School of Philadelphia would be opened for 
my sdmission to a professorship. But even on that subject, his 
encouragement grew fainter as time and ohangea went on : until 
he at length gave me to understand his opinion, if not his wish to 
be, that, except on certain conditions performed on my part, the 
lit 



290 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OP 

doors of the school would be certainly closed against me ; and 
with those conditions he well knew I would never comply. 

"Pray, sir," said I, "have the goodness to inform me whence has 
arisen this sudden change?" He replied that the change was not 
very sudden, but had been in progress for some time. "Where- 
fore, then," I rejoined, in an excited tone and manner, somewhat 
resembling those of demand, " have I not been apprised of it at an 
earlier period ?" " Why, sir," said he, " to be the announcer of 
unpleasant news is an unpleasant employment." "It is, or surely 
ought to be," I promptly replied, "less unpleasant, and more 
friendly and useful, to communicate the news of things being in 
jeopardy, but still perhaps remediable, than of their being lost and 
irremediable. 

"But whether the change referred to be recent or of long stand- 
ing, it has a cause ; and of that I hold myself entitled to be in- 
formed." "Though I am not," said he, "in the habit of divulging 
the existence of secret and alienated feelings, it is perhaps my 
duty, in the present case, so far to do so, as to tell you, that some 
members of the Faculty are not friendly to you, and are unwilling 
to speak well of you to the Board of Trustees." 

" Unwilling to speak well of me ! Do any member or members 
of the Faculty dare to speak ill of me to either the Board of 
Trustees, or any other persons ? If so, I have a right to their 
names." " Of your talents, attainments, and powers in lecturing, 
and instructing," he replied, "they speak in the most respectful 
and flattering terms. But they are reluctant to recommend you 
to the Board of Trustees, in the light of a professor." 

" It is time enough for them, sir, to refuse their recommenda- 
tion, when it is wanted. I have never either asked for it, or 
coveted it. Nor do I set on it the value of 'a pin's point.' And 
you are authorized, if you please, to tell them so, and say that 
you do it at my request. The only recommendation I rely on, 
or would accept, is that of my fitness to discharge the duties of 
the station. And that ' fitness' not a member of the Faculty ever 
has denied, or will deny, in either my own presence, or in that 
of my friends. And you may deem it even superfluous in me to 
add, that to yourself the truth of this is thoroughly known, and 
by yourself has been publicly and repeatedly acknowledged. 
And to you it is further known that, had I, like two or three other 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 291 

persons, whom it would be superfluous in me to name, degraded 
myself and Battered them, by paying court to certain members 
of the Faculty, who need not be designated to you, it would have 

' n very easy fur me to conciliate their patronage and favor, 

and procure their r immendation to any appointment I might 

solicit ur desire, For the only reason they have to decline speak- 
ing weUot me t" the Board of Ti - because I have d 
condescended to speak flatteringly to them. 

"Rut this conference is no better than a waste of words. I shall 
therefore close i1 by remarking that, though you have pronou 
1 1 1 • - Philadelphia Faculty barred against my entrance, either it or 
some other will yet be open to me, and I shall be invited and 
solicited to enti r it. For, notwithstanding the hostility toward 
me, to which you have alluded, should my life and health be 
spared, I will, before the lapse of many years, be the occupant 

of a chair in a scl 1 of medicine as honorable as your own.'' 

This was the last conference I aver held with Dr. Rush, And 
though, for some time afterward, we civilly saluted when we met, 
we at length discontinued even that mark of regard, and passed 
each other without recognition. 1 shall only add at present, that 
not many years from the period of my parting interview with 
m\ one,- chosen preceptor had passed away, when, in evidence 
thai my self-confident and haughty prediction made to him res- 
pecting the successful destiny thai awaited me was not altogether 
empty and vainglorious, I was in\ tted to take part in the formation 
of three medical schools, and to occupy in either of them, when 
formed, whatever chair I might think proper to select 1 shonld 

rather have said that I was invited to take part in two of those 
Bchoola, and of the third was myself the chief projector. Of 
these, one was the school first established in the interior of New 
York, situated 1 think in Greenfield, or Fairfield, and afterward 
removed to Geneva, where it now- stands and flourishes. Another 
the school of Baltimore, which still continues, but has never 
flourished. And the third was : oond Philadelphia school. 

In the tirst two of these I promptly declined to take any concern. 
But the third, which, I repeat, was chiefly a thing of my own 
projection, made a deep impression on me, and much more 
seriously occupied my mind. In the formation of it 1 was not 
merely to unite with others, but to lead the enterprise, in the 



292 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

capacity of premier, and, when accomplished, to select my chair, 
which would have been the same I caused to be established for 
myself in two schools in Kentucky, and now occupy one of them. 
In this project I would have certainly engaged, had I been able 
to call around me colleagues in whose competency I could fully 
confide. But that was not the case. The number that proffered 
me their aid was far too large to be all accepted : but the number 
well qualified to give aid worth acceptance, was too small for my 
purpose. Those of the applicants who possessed most means in 
the form of knowledge, had least energy and resolution ; and those 
possessed of a sufficient amount of the latter qualities were deficient 
in the former. The requisite number supplied with a satisfactory 
stock of both, the means to be used, and the suitable capacity and 
determination to use them, did not present itself. Hence, I did 
not deem it judicious to commence the enterprise. Neither, how- 
ever, did I formally abandon it, until I was invited to Kentucky 
to embark my future fate in the medicine of the west. I still, 
therefore, persevered, with unabated assiduity and vigor in my 
preparation for the elevated and responsible station. And as 
Dr. Eush had now virtually, if not avowedly enrolled himself in 
the phalanx of my enemies, I resolved, however indiscreet and 
hazardous might be the enterprise, to enter the lists and break a 
lance with him in an open and public joust on one of his favorite 
theoretical topics. I announced, therefore, to the medical class 
and to the public at large, that on a specified evening I would 
deliver a lecture in open contest with the sentiments of Dr. Eush, 
on the subject of the Brunonian hypothesis of life. 

By some of my friends this unequivocal throw of the gauntlet 
was regretted and condemned, as an act uncalled for and injudi- 
cious, which would necessarily augment toward me the resent- 
ment of Dr. Eush and his friends. By others it was applauded 
as a manly and independent measure, which would enable me to 
display to the best advantage whatever of resources and power 
I might possess. Far from submitting to the advice of deliberate, 
cold, and cautious calculators, I did not allow them to remon- 
strate with me on the scheme of procedure I was about to com- 
mence. 

The evening of the expected tourney arrived, and my audience 
was large, intelligent, and respectable. It was composed, as I 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 293 

wished an 1 expected it to be, of the medical class perhaps entire, 
of most of the junior and inquiring physicians of the city, and no 
Inconsiderable number of the intellectually elite of the citizens. 

When 1 entered the hall, crowded with expectants of my per- 
formance, some of them hostile to me, and some fri 'it a 
number, probably tenfold larger, nothing more than indifferent 
lookers-on, thongh 1 was not awe-stricken, yet were my feelings 
profoundly solemn, and unusually boding. The occasion was re- 
garded by me ai mure or less a crisis of my fortune in my sub- 
sequent career. A small 1po.1v of familiar and friendly faces, that 
often, in places of public debate and address, had cheered and 
encouraged me by their look of full and sprightly confidence, 
was grouped in my front, and appeared to be anxious, if not de- 
jected. Bui the termination of the discourse was followed by an 
outbreak of approval thai was quite an uproar. The little cluster 
of friends who had been stationed in my front, and to whose 
previous manifestations 1 have already alluded, were instantly 
around tne, and, in their eagerness to grasp my hand, not only 
jostled each other, but even annoyed myself. Never had I pre- 
viously deliver..! an address that was ree.-ived with such marks 

of approbation ; nor had [ever before delivered one so satisfac- 
tory to myself 1 felt thai 1 had not only done my duty to the 
occasion, and oredil to myself; 1 indulged the higher hope and 
more flattering belief, that 1 had contributed somewhat to the 

advancement of the science of physiology, by uprooting from it 

a deep set popular error, and supplying its place with a perma- 
nent truth. For never afterward, as 1 had reason to know, was 

the Brunonian hypothesis of life received, in the city of Philadel- 
phia, with near the same amount of favor that had been pre- 
viously bestowed on it. And as 1 regularly assailed it during 
every "Subsequent winter, and other persons at length co-operated 
in the work, it continued gradually to decline until it finally 
expired, on the death of l>r. Rush, and was inhumed in the grave 
of its illustrious defender. 

At the time to which my observations refer. Dr. Coxe, in whose 
lecture room the seats were amphithcatrically arranged, was Pro- 
fessor of Chemistry. 

The second or third day after the delivery of my address in 
opposition to the Prunonian hypothesis of life, I attended one of 



294 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

that gentleman's lectures on an interesting topic in chemistry, of 
which he was to offer some new illustration. On my arrival at 
his lecture-room, the class being already seated, I was unable to 
procure a seat near to the professor, without more trouble and 
inconvenience than I was willing either to encounter myself or to 
impose on others. That I might occupy, therefore, the best posi- 
tion attainable, from which to witness the experiments that were 
to be performed, I took my station (for I did not sit down) on one 
of the back and loftiest seats in the room. In his attempted illus- 
trations the professor, as usual, was not very successful ; and no 
sooner was his lecture concluded, than there arose a loud but not 
a general hiss, which continued a few seconds, and was once or 
twice repeated. 

At first I believed that the mark of disrespect was designed 
for Dr. Coxe. And so indeed did the professor himself, and was 
momentarily much disconcerted and agitated by it; and the class 
itself became highly excited. At length a voice exclaimed : 
" Caldwell — it is Caldwell that is hissed — not Dr. Coxe." I then 
advanced into a more conspicuous part of the room, and with a 
menacing action of my arms toward the place from which the 
sound had reached me, exclaimed in a calm and contemptuous 
voice : " I know of but three sorts of vermin that vent their spleen 
by hissing ; an enraged cat, a viper, and a goose ; and I knew not 
till now, that either of them infested this room." On this, from 
the same quarter came the cry : " Turn him out ! turn him out !" 
And there was immediately around me a party of my own pupils, 
chiefly from the States of Georgia and Kentucky, to whom I was 
communicating instruction by lectures and examinations; and 
who, apprehensive that I might be assaulted, requested me to 
accompany them out of the room, and they would protect me. 
My immediate reply, calm and courteous, but as positive as words 
and manner could make it, was : " I thank you, gentlemen, for your 
proffered kindness; but I do not need it. I can protect myself." 
Kaising then my voice, so as to be heard throughout the room, 
I added : " From this spot I will not move, until those insolent 
fellows shall have left the room, unless they remain in it (looking 
at my watch) until twelve o'clock, at which time I must leave it 
myself to make good an engagement. And should any one of 
them have the audacity to approach me as an assailant, he shall 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 295 

have abundant cause to remember his impudence and deplore his 
rashness until the end of his life, which may perhaps be nearer 
at hand than he is prepared t" imagine; for I will precipitate him 
to the bottom of this pit, and determine by experiment which is 
the thicker and harder, his brain-pan or that brick Boor." 

Thus terminated in peaee the petty affair that had commenced 
in hostility. No one, my own pupila excepted, approached me. 
The defeated gang of insulters left die room, and in a few min 
afterward 1 followed them, accompanied by my manly and iaith- 
ful adherent*. 

On the vitality of the blood I composed, delivered, and printed 
three lectures, at a period anterior to that included in my last 
statements; ami on the investigation of that topic I bestowed 

more time and pains than on that of any other in tii 

of physiology. In my reading, observation, and experiments in 
relation to it, 1 spent, during three yean, nearly all my leisure 
from professional dutit -. 

As 1 have elsewhere mentioned, Dr. Rush had openly opposed, 
m Ins lectures, tin- doctrine of the vitality of the blood, until I 
had lectured on it and published my lectures. But my experi- 
ments and arguments converted him to the truth; and for two 
years alter my lectures had been printed, he publicly taught the 
correal doctrine, and not only gave tome the credit of having 

effected his OOnversion, hut for authority and further information 

on the subject, referred to my writings. After the rupture, how. 
ever, between us had occurred, he taught the doctrine no more; 

nor did he ever again refer to me BS the BUCCessful defender of it. 

But, as l.i r is 1 waa informed on the subject, he never again 

opposed it, hut maintained in relation to it absolute silei. 

I Bhall only add, under this head, that my successful defence of 
the vitality of the blood procured for me, young BS 1 was, nume- 
rous and complimentary notions in both my own and foreign 
countries. Drs. Darwin, Currie, and Beddoea, three of the most 
distinguished physicians of the time, in Great Britain, became 
subsequently, on account ol' it, and at their own request, my 
correspondents in seienee. Doctor l.ettsom, of London, with whom 
1 had previously corresponded, requested and received for his 
Cabinet a miniature likeness of me, taken in Philadelphia by an 
able artist. 



296 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

Another topic on which I prepared and delivered lectures, in 
opposition to the doctrine respecting it inculcated by Dr. Rush, 
was the Vis conservatrix et medicatrix natures, the power of nature 
to preserve health and cure disease. For, singular as the notion 
may be deemed, that popular teacher indulged and defended it, 
that in many, if not in all cases of sickness, the physician in 
attendance ought to take the disease out of the hands of nature, 
and cure it himself; that, to use his own memorable form of 
expression, he "ought to turn nature out of doors," and take the 
complaint " into his own hands," as regards the means and mode 
of treatment and cure. Nor did he any more admit the existence 
and universality of nature's conservative than he did of her cura- 
tive power and agency. His theory, in both cases, was far too 
much the creation of art — I ought to say it was his own creation. 

The anecdote of what occurred between him and myself on 
this subject in my early pupilage has, if I forget not, been already 
told — how my pert reply to his interrogatory (" Ought not na- 
ture here to be turned out of doors?") was, that "it would be 
much better to turn the physician out of doors," and trust the 
complaint to nature alone. And such precisely was the ground 
I then assumed in my lectures, and which I still maintain at the 
present time. 

In relation to his hypotheses and theories, opinions and doc- 
trines, the general and almost uniform practice of Dr. Rash was 
known to be very often to change and even abandon them of his 
own accord; but never to do so from the influence of others. 
But under the force of the representations and arguments of Dr. 
Physick and myself (whom alone, for several years, he allowed to 
controvert his sentiments without taking offence at us — and at 
Dr. Physick he never took offence) — under our influence, I say, he 
relinquished his belief in the contagiousness of yellow fever, and 
recorded his relinquishment in one of the periodicals of the time. 
And, under the force of my own arguments (for Dr. Physick 
never contested the point with him, though he concurred in 
opinion with me), he renounced his belief in the non-vitality of 
the blood, and taught, for a time, the contrary doctrine ; and, on 
several other points he so modified his opinions as to render 
them less exceptionable; and some of them he ceased to inculcate 
in his lectures. 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 297 

I well know that my statements are calculated to hold up to 
the public mind a mirror of the disposition and character of Dr. 
Rush somewhat different, in the image it reflects, from those 
which have been presented from other quarters. But I as well 
know that the glass is true to its purpose, and that therefore its 
imago is correct. On the faithfulness of the portrait, my reputa- 
tion for truth and accuracy is staked; and in prospect of the 
issue 1 am free from disquietude. 

At tin', commencement of the present century, the period ax 
which my lectures were delivered, the feelings and disposition of 
the physicians of the United States, and indeed of the inhabitants 

of "in untry in general, were exceedingly different a- respected 

science and Letters, from what they arc at present. '1'" write, 
publish, and lecture then, were regarded as xvry grave and for- 
midable tasks. The reason is plain: they were ta^k^ new and 
untried by nearly the whole body of the American people. And 
I was mortified then to know, and even now to remember and 
say, that, in relation bo intellectual efforts and performances, we 

possessed much more of a colonial, than of a national spirit. By 
Considering ourselves mental underlines, we came too near de- 
grading ourselves to that humiliating condition; and virtually 
justified haughty foreigners, especially Englishmen, in taunting 
us with it j if we did not invite them to the insulting deed. And 
whether invited to it by words, or encouraged by manifestations, 
the taunt, at times, was impudently given. About the year L800, 
11 — y N — n, a friend of mine, fought a duel with a young En- 
glishman on account of an insult to that affect. 

In the condition o\' things which then existed, for a physician, 
especially a youthful one, to write and publish a book, or to pre- 
pare and deliver a volunteer and independent series of lectures, 
was n,>t only a very rare, but was regarded as a very hazardous 
if not a rash adventure. To attempt it was accounted an act of 
the comparatively silly, or the inordinately bold. Of the former, 
because he knew nothing, and was blind to the risk, and of the 
latter, because he feared nothing, and was regardless of it. 

When 1 was a student of medicine, I translated Blumentxicft's 
tilt moils tif Physiology, affixing to it a preface, notes, and an ap- 
pendix, by myself. When, not lone; afterward, I made like addi- 
tions to an American editiou of Daruin's Zoonomui, published 



298 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

under my own superintendence ; and when, within a year or two 
more, I published a volume of original medical and physical 
memoirs, written by myself, and thus proceeded, publishing 
annually, semi-annually, or at shorter intervals, some product of 
my own — when relying, I say, exclusively on my own resources, I 
commenced and pursued perseveringly this independent career 
of enterprise and industry, I was considered as a sort of marvel 
of intrepidity and self-confidence. Those to whom I was known, 
and to whom the unencouraging, not to say disencouraging 
influences, under which I acted were also known, did not so 
much inquire whether I wrote and published creditably, as they 
wondered why I wrote and published at all. 

At the time to which I refer, the population of the United 
States amounted to from five to six millions; while it amounts 
at present, to more than twenty millions. Our population now, 
therefore, is but fourfold as numerous as it was at that period. 
Yet is, our own corps of writers, publishers, and independent 
lecturers, twentyfold as numerous. Had I said fiftyfold, it would 
not perhaps be easy to convict me of extravagance. Nor do I 
consider the cause of this difference to be of difficult detection. 
It does not consist of any difference in our individual strength of 
mind (I mean of intellectual faculties), bestowed by nature, but 
in that of our individual independence, enterprise, and boldness 
of sentiment and character. We possessed then a colonial and in 
some respects, submissive spirit, while we now possess a national 
spirit, that bids a proud defiance to the world. 

Though our fathers, by their wisdom, valor, and determination 
to be free, had won and secured to us political independence, yet 
had we, their half degenerate sons, done but little toward the 
achievement of literary, scientific, and professional independence. 
As regarded those high and essential elements of national power, 
grandeur, and glory, instead of relying on our own resources, we 
still drew far too largely on those of the nations of Europe, espe- 
cially of England and her provinces and dependencies. 

Nor is our mental independence yet complete. In taste, 
fashion, and manners we are still colonial. But, even on these 
points, we are much less so than we were toward the close of the 
last and the commencement of the present century. But this is 
much more especially true, in relation to lecturing and the pro- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 299 

cess of book-making, in all its branches, literary and scientific, 
as well as mechanical. But the chief point, connected with this 
subject, on which we have ground of self-gratulation, is the 
growing emancipation of our intellect as a people, associated 
with the brightening arid cheering prospect that it will soon be 

complete. 

One of the predominant faculties of man, is that of imitative- 
ness. Columbus, by his intrepidity and enterprise, discovered 
for himself and made known toothers, the broad ocean path to 
the New World, and his example was soon imitated, and his 
path followed by hosts of hardy adventurers from the old. In 
like manner have masses of native Americana been excited, by 

the example 0f8 few bold adventurers, to engage in literary and 

scientific competition with the Datives of Europe. Nor has the 
contest been ever more eager, ardent, and propitious to the 
United States, than it is at present. And if there be, in the 
course of my Long and diversified career, a single form of action 
and behavior, by which I feel authorized to believe, without 
presamptuousness, that I have contributed in any degree to the 
permanent grandeur and glory of my country, it is by that of the 
example of personal literary and scientific independence, which I 
have presented since my youth to my American contemporaries. 



300 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



CHAPTER X. 

Sedatives and stimulants — Schuylkill water — Phrenology — Disease a unit — Metho- 
dical nosology — Reformation — Melancthon — Luther — Gen. Jackson — Ramsay — 
Coxe — Sybert — Death of Dr. Rush — Memoir of Dr. Rush in Delaplaine's Reposi- 
tory — Rev. Dr. Staughton — How to teach one's self the best tuition — Dr. Chapman. 

The subject of sedatives and stimulants is first referred to 
in the caption of the chapter, and will be first noticed in my 
narrative; because, in my lectures, it received, in point of time, 
the first stated and public discussion, and was first, perhaps, 
settled in public opinion, in conformity to the principles for 
which I contended. 

In my discussion of the subject of sedatives and stimulants, I 
was again in direct opposition to the views of Dr. Rush, as well 
as of the whole retinue of his followers. But our contest was 
intellectual, our feelings being altogether undisturbed by it. It 
constituted, therefore, an exciting and agreeable exercise of mind, 
without any perceptible mixture of collision or unfriendliness. 

The controversy, commenced at an early era of my medical 
life, and was carried on for many years. 

It is not, however, to be understood, that the controversy was 
held at all times, directly with Dr. Rush in person. It was uni- 
formly, however, held with him, or with some of those who had 
imbibed his notions, and become their defenders. The doctor 
was regarded by me, therefore, as more or less the fountain-head 
of the hypothesis I was opposing, because he was the only person 
in the United States, whose popularity could have given to it a 
circulation so extensive, and a foothold so stable. For such was 
its stability that, near twenty years after his death, his most dis- 
tinguished follower in Philadelphia respectfully challenged me 
to a renewal of the contest. The challenge was accepted on one 
condition — that we should each of us publish an essay on the 
subject (one of them being a formal reply to the other), either 
both of them in the same work, or in the most respectable perio- 



CUARLE9 CALDWELL, M. D. 301 

dicalfl of the clay. The condition was admitted; and it fell to my 
lot to appear first in the contest. My paper was published in 
the second volume of the Transylvania Journal of Medicine for the 
year 1829 ; and it still stands alone. My very respectable 
antagonist has never replied to it. Nor, after so protracted a 
silence, do 1 think it probable that he designs to reply. Tho 
reason of his omission I pretend not to know. AVere I to form 
a cuii]' i tmv, however, on the subject, it would probably be, that 
he finds a perseverance in silence an easier task than a refutation 
of the arguments which my essay contains. 

I am sufficiently aware that, for a large majority of the medi- 
cal community of the present day, my descant on sedatives and 
stimulants would not possess a very attractive interest. Tho 
H MOD is plain. It is a record of an event in the history of medi- 
cine, at a remote period, when the profession wore an aspect in 
no slight degree different from what it now exhibits. Nor would 
it, impart any important instruction as to the nature and treatment 
of the disease. It is not, therefore, well adapted to the turn and 
tusto of tho present more practical era in medicine, when mere 
ODBC i 'Nation, experiment, and fact engage the medical mind much 
more than reasoning and theory. Nor do 1 po.-itivelv deny that 
they may perhaps more profitably engage it. Still, however, a 
knowledge of the past no less than of the present, belongs to the 
Boienoe and history of the profession. Some aooonot of it, more- 
over, when recorded, makes an indispensable element of its 
literature, and ought not, through iudill'erence, to be neglected 
aud forgotten. 

Nor am 1 without another and at least a more explicit, if not 
a better reason for the record of my controversy about sedatives. 
I am writing my own biography, which is to be a narrative of 
what 1 have done and Buffered, and of what has been done to, for, 
against, and on account of me. And the controversy described 
made a part of my doing; which, if I had not done, nor any 
other person done in my stead, an error in medical philosophy 
would have lain unexposed, a point of delusion, for the mislead- 
ing of the many. For by the few alone who think and lead, aud 
not by the many, who in obedient credulity follow their leaders 
(they think not, and therefore know not whither), must all such 
ingcuiously masked errors, moulded into the image of seeming 



302 AUTOBIOGKAPHY OP 

truth, be stripped of their disguise and power to deceive, and ulti- 
mately extinguished. Nor, unless he has witnessed their preva- 
lence, and learned by observation and experience the firmness and 
stability with which they radicate themselves in the public mind, 
when skilfully managed by eloquence and sophistry, can any 
one well conceive the extreme difficulty of completely uprooting 
such errors by a full and satisfactory exposure of their fallacious- 
ness, and of the mischief they produce. 

Nor is it possible for any one, who has neither witnessed nor 
felt them, to have a correct knowledge of either the mischief itself, 
or the benefit conferred on society by those who have been instru- 
mental in removing it ; for the medical mind to be enthralled in 
error, superstition, and prejudice, is a very grievous evil, which 
none can appreciate but those who have experienced it. He, 
therefore, who by years of daring and labor, incurs the odium 
and injury on himself of setting it free (for such is always the 
first reward of an achievement of the kind), is the benefactor of 
an order far above and beyond what he is generally supposed to 
rs be; for errors of magnitude never fall alone. Such is their 
mutual connection with, dependence on, and production of other 
errors, that the subversion of one of them subverts without 
failure a certain number of its associates, and thus frees from 
clouds, obscurities, and delusions of mirage a much larger field 
of the intellectual atmosphere than it occupies itself. 

Hence the fact that men rarely, if ever, receive the credit due 
to them, for either the extermination of old errors, or the dis- 
covery and establishment of new truths. Their contemporaries 
and rivals oppose, calumniate, and often persecute them. And 
those who come after them are not prepared to bestow on them, 
in reputation, the reward to which they are entitled ; because 
they have never experienced the evils removed, nor, by con- 
trast, the first advantages of the good that has been introduced. 
For time impairs the keenness and vividness of the appreciation 
of both good and evil. On this subject, I speak from experi- 
ence no less than from observation and history. Personally 
I have never borne a part in the extinguishment of error, 
especially of an ancient error, or in the introduction and esta- 
blishment of a new truth, without coming into conflict with 
opponents who attempted to injure me by some form of delibe- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 303 

rate falsehood. This was proverbially true of every case, in 
which I attempted, in the early years of my medical life, either 
to beat down an old error, or to call forth or support a new and 
interesting truth ; and the deeper and more dangerous the error, 
and the more striking and important the truth, the more virulent 
and unsparing were the efforts of my opponents to do me an 
injury, and prevent my success. This trutli is fully sustained by 
the spirit of animosity and mischief roused against me, by all I 
did and assisted to do, in Philadelphia, respecting the cause, 
nature, and prevention of yellow fever, and by all 1 have done, 
at a more recent period, toward the promotion of the knowledge 
of phrenology. Yet has Philadelphia derived incalculable bene- 
fits from the additions made to science by the labors of the 

former tasion, while, from those "I' the latter, mankind at large 

air destined to receive, through all coming time, benefits and 
blessings of a magnitude and multiplicity which no human saga- 
city c;in compute. 

Whatever, moreover, may have been my success, it is a further 
truth, as I verily believe, that I have endeavored to heat down 
more errors, and establish more truths, in the science of medicine 
than any Other physician in the United States has ever done. 
For my life is a protracted one; and if my memory deceive me 
not, never, since the year 17'.':; until the present date (1848), have 
I been free from a contest against some opinions or doctrines 
which I consider erroneous. 

Let it be distinctly, however, understood, that of those labors to 
whicb 1 have referred, I do not claim the performance to have 
been effected exclusively by myself. Far from it. I was only a 
participant in the performance with others, who cordially and 
efficiently cooperated with me in the work. If I possess in the 
labors referred to, any merit beyond that of my associates in 
them, it is that I had the intellectual independence, and the moral 
oourage to be the originator of some of them, and the first, in the 
places where 1 resided, to commence and proclaim my advocacy 
of the others. As far as 1 was or am yet informed on the subject, 
1 was the first in the United States to attack openly the Bruno- 
nian hypothesis of life, and the principles of my attack were 
entirely my own. 1 was also one of the first to assert and pub- 
licly defend the doctrine of the non-contagiousness of yellow 



301 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

fever, and to propose, as a preventive of it, in Philadelphia, the 
introduction into the city of the water of the Schuylkill. I first 
introduced into the United States the science of phrenology, and 
was the first public and practical advocate of mesmerism in the 
valley of the Mississippi. I was in like manner the first to wage 
public war on Dr. Eush's notion that '' disease is a unit," and 
fever a convulsion in the arterial system ; and on his condemna- 
tion and repudiation of methodical nosology. Nor do these, 
perhaps, constitute a tithe of the number of topics in relation to 
which I was the first to attack and attempt to demolish what I 
regarded as erroneous, and to defend and establish what I be- 
lieved to be true. 

No sooner had I embarked in these several enterprises, and 
fearlessly and confidently submitted to the public my principles 
of action in them, than I attracted the especial notice of two classes 
of men, my enemies, and my auxiliaries. And while the former 
arrayed themselves in opposition to me, prepared to assail me 
with every weapon they could wield, and every stratagem they 
could devise, the latter promptly hastened to support me, with 
all the resources they could bring to the contest. And although 
the aid I thus received, in the accomplishment of my purpose, 
was highly valuable to me, not a man who afforded it would, as 
I feel persuaded, of his own accord, have engaged in the enterprise. 
He would resolutely and efficiently follow a leader, but would 
not become one. So true is it that in the transaction of matters 
of mind, neither the spirit nor the principle of republicanism pre- 
vails. The influence that governs is much more assimilated to 
military rule. Men act from the example, and under the autho- 
rity of others, and the many submit to the dictates of the few. 
In literature and science, the spirit and form of government are 
much more aristocratic, or monarchical, than is generally ima- 
gined. 

Hence the fact, that a daring spirit and a powerful will are 
two of the leading elements of a fitness for enterprise and high 
achievement. And he who possesses them, accompanied with but 
a second or third-rate intellect, is more competent to the per- 
formance of distinguished deeds than he who, without them, 
possesses intellect of a much higher order. By the Reformation, 
this truth is illustrated and proved perhaps more strikingly, than 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 305 

by any other single event. Melancthon, gifted with a far superior 
intellect, but inferior in boldness and power of will, could never 
have performed the deeds of Luther. Nor can any man, destitute 
of a daring spirit and indomitable will, fill the sphere of action 
which our own countryman General Jackson filled, be the order 
and character of his intellect what they may. 

Dr. Prie tlej assured me, at an early period of my life, that the 
reason why he had left most, if not all the companions of his 
youth far behind him, in the career of science and learning, was 
not because he surpassed them in intellect (which he assured me 
was not the case), but because he surpassed them in industry and 
perseverance. Since my earliest remembrance, I have never 
shrunk from the avowal and advocacy of an opinion which I 
believed to be true; oor from embarking and persevering in any 
enterprise, winch ] believed to be at once both practicable and 
useful, and which lay in what I believed to be the path of my 
duty. Hut to return to my oarrative 

Dr. Ramsay, of Charleston, South Carolina, continued, during a 
lifetime, a friend and admirer of the Philadelphia professor; and 
he was an able and distinguished man. But he was not a great 
one. lie was not a strong and original thinker, lie was much 
more conversant with printed hooks than with the book of nature. 
But for the art 0*f printing, he would have been a man of but >j)t, 
ordinary standing. He was much more of a scholar than of a 
philosopher, and more of an extensive and retentive reader than 
of either. In the faculties of eventuality and language he was 
eminently, in those of comparison and causality, but mode- 
rately gifted. Hence, his well-known devotedness to historical and 
his comparative indifference toward philosophical pursuits. 

To some extent. Dr. llamsay was a writer. And the depend- 
ent character of his mind is clearly manifested in his works, 
which are almost exclusively compilations, the result of reading, 
not of observation. His History of the Revolutionary and Politi- 
cal Movements of the United States abounds in matter derived 
from preceding works ; his Biographical Memoir of Dr. Rush is 
made up almost entirely oi' extracts from that gentleman's own 
writings; and, of a public address delivered by him commemora- 
tive o( the purchase of Louisiana by the Government of the 
United States, the first twelve or thirteen pages are taken almost 
20 



306 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

verbatim from an address by myself, prepared some years pre- 
viously, and published by the Society to which it was delivered. 
Philadelphia exhibited another well defined specimen of the 
character of mind that a physician must have possessed, to be 
qualified to maintain a perennial friendliness with Dr. Rush. 

Professor Coxe was educated by Dr. Push as a private house- 
pupil, subserved his preceptor in all becoming and requisite acts, 
and never opposed him, or even differed from him, in a medical 
thought. Whatever notion, hypothesis, sentiment, opinion, theory, 
or doctrine, the preceptor announced in his lectures or published 
in his writings, the affiliated pupil adopted as an element of his 
medical creed. And whatever the former condemned or repu- 
diated as effete matter or as medical heresy, the latter implicitly 
treated in a similar way. The effect of this strict conformity 
and passive obedience on the mind and conduct of Dr. Push and 
on the standing of Dr. Coxe, was memorable. It secured the 
permanent and active friendliness and patronage of the preceptor, 
made the pupil's pecuniary fortune, and gave to him all the rank 
and consequence, as a man of professional business, that he 
ever possessed. To offer, in confirmation of this, a few special 
remarks. 

By the death of Professor Woodhouse, the chair of chemistry, 
in the medical school of Philadelphia, became vacant. Nor was 
any one in that place, nor even in the country at the time, except 
Judge Cooper, well qualified to refill it. And even he wanted 
the important qualification of a knowledge of medicine. 

In this condition of things, two candidates for the vacant chair 
were recommended to the Board of Trustees — Dr. Coxe, by Dr. 
Rush and his party — and Dr. Seybert, by Dr. Wistar and others, 
who joined him in the recommendation. 

Of these two individuals, both of them young and inexperienced 
in teaching, Dr. Seybert was best qualified by both nature and 
education. Not only did he possess a superiority in talents; he 
had also more tact, from having performed some chemical experi- 
ments during his pupilage; while Dr. Coxe was in all respects 
unprovided, and unfit for the place he solicited. 

But while in behalf of Dr. Seybert, who relied on his own well- 
known and acknowledged superiority in talents and general 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 307 

fitness for the chair, but very little was done by either himself or 
others, to strengthen his claim or give it popularity, Dr. Coxe had 
an advocate, zealous and indefatigable in his exertions for him, 
and fully equal to the work of a host. This was Dr. Rush, by 
far the ablest tactician of the day, in the case that was pending. 

Added to the abstract desire that Dr. Rush might entertain to 
benefit the fortune of Dr. Coxe, as his pupil, and one of his most 
zealous and permanent retainers, he ardently wished his intro- 
duction into the Faculty of the school, in order to strengthen in 
it his own influence and accomplish his purposes, in case of the 
agitation there of party questions. For his confidence was perfect, 
that, Oil an occasion of the sort, Dr. Coxe would never fail to aid 
him by his vote. Hence, his measures to procure his appointment 

to the eliair were as well devised as his native talents, strength- 
ened and disciplined by much experience, could render them, and 
his endeavors to have them carried into effect as strenuous and 
unremitting as they could be made by an ardent spirit of party 
ambition. 

In a short time-, moreover, after the commencement of his 
lectures, it appeared to the satisfaction of every person, who 
attended even one of them, that some consideration, other than his 
fitness lor it, had placed him in the chair. His industry excepted, 
he possessed scarcely a single element of real competency to the 
discharge of the duties of the appointment conferred on him. 
His knowledge of chemistry was exceedingly limited; in the 
performance of experiments, having neither tact nor discipline to 
aid him, he was proverbially unsuccessful, and he had no lan- 
gnage at command to tell, with any degree of elegance or scho- 
larship, either why or how he succeeded or failed. So frequent, 
I might almost say uniform, was the failure of his experiments, 
that he found it necessary to offer some defence of it. And his 
etl'ort to that effect was both singular and original — the only 
element of originality I ever knew him to manifest. It was an 
assertion by him, that as much if not more instruction was 
derivable from the failure of an experiment than from its success. 
Because, he contended, that when an experimenter fails once, he 
discovers the cause of his failure, and learns, by avoiding it, how 
to succeed in his next attempt. Hence, by his failure, he attains 



i 



308 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

a knowledge on two points — the cause of failure and the cause of 
success. Such was the doctor's course of reasoning; in which, how- 
ever, he appears to have forgotten, that the causes of failure may- 
be numerous; every deviation from a correct procedure, of which 
there may be dozens or scores, constituting such a cause. Truth 
in action, like truth in speech, is a right line, which has and can 
have but one direction — and that is straight forward ; while error 
of every description has more directions than there are points 
and half points in the whole compass. 

In his own manipulations, Dr. Coxe gave proof that a chemist 
does not, by failing once in an experiment, always learn how to 
succeed in his next trial of it. He failed dozens of times in the 
same experiment. 

Having been permitted by the Board of Trustees (the public 
thought very improperly) to remain for several years in the 
chair of chemistry, Dr. Coxe was transplanted to the chair of 
materia medica. There, again, far from taking root, flourishing, 
and becoming fruitful, he continued to blunder for many years 
more (the evil, if not unnoticed, continuing uncorrected by the 
trustees), until the pupils themselves became intolerant of the 
imposition, and, by an outbreak of insubordination, which nothing 
could control, compelled him to resign his chair, or be ex- 
pelled from it. Such was the issue to which Dr. Rush's eleva- 
tion of one of his favorite pupils and retainers to an office too 
high and arduous for his abilities ultimately led. And it is due to 
that retainer's classes to say, that but for their pre-eminent for- 
bearance and moderation, his expulsion must have been effected 
at a much earlier period ; for he was one of the most incompetent 
and uninteresting teachers of medicine I have ever known. 

Dr. Coxe had a sort of instinctive aversion from new things in 
general. This was perhaps more especially the case with regard 
to new books. Hence his library contained comparatively but 
a small collection of books under the age of a century, and not a 
few of a much earlier date. In justice to him, however, I am 
bound to add, that he did not rest content with a knowledge of 
the mere date, title-page, cover, and mode of binding of his books. 
His mode of acquaintance with the contents of them was highly 
respectable — far exceeding that of most of his contemporaries in 
Philadelphia.- For, though not a great thinker, or peruser of 



CHAItLES CALDWELL, M. D. 309 

toe Book of Nature, his acquaintance with letter-press books was 
extensive. 

These remarks, respecting Dr. Coxe, I have made not from 
any abstract or spontaneous disposition to speak dispraisefully of 
liim (fur J regard him as a very worthy and highly respectable 
man). 

Qaring introduced into my narrative the name of Dr. Sevbert, 
a few farther remarks in relation to him may not be inappropri- 
ate. He is worthy of them, and, for various reasons, deserved to 
be known to posterity u one of the asefnl men of the day when 
the United States were comparatively in their childhood; he 
became, at that period, the introducer into our country of an 
important art, and the author of an able and valuable work. 

Without possessing a trait of mental brilliancy, or any pre- 
tension to it, Dr. Seyberl bad a strong, active, ami tractable mind. 
His private pupilage in medicine was passed under the direction 
of l»r. Wistar, who was an able anatomist, and for the time, a 
well disciplined chemist. This gave bent and effect to the atten- 
tion and attainments of young Seybert, who became (compared 
to most of bis fellow pupils of the day) somewhat versed in the 
favorite branohes of study of his preceptor. Nor was any branch 
of the profession either neglected by him, or superficially studied. 
From the sobriety, industry, decorum, and intellectual acquire- 
ments which marked it, his pupilage was highly creditable to 
him. lie manifested, moreover, at an early period, two attri- 
butes of mind, which were both praiseworthy and valuable — the 
independence to think tor himself, and the strength and clear- 
ness to think with good effect 

At the time that Seybert took the doctorate in medicine, the 
rule and practice of the medical school of Philadelphia were, that 
the candidate for a degree should write, print, and defend in 
public an inaugural dissertation on some subject in medicine, 
selected by himself 

The theme selected by our candidate was. the doctrine of pu- 
tridity, in all its forms, in the living system of man, and of other 
organized and vitalized beings. Does such a condition ever 
actually occur ? Is real thorough-gone putridity at all compatible 
with the existence of lite? Is it, or is it not the verv antipodes 
o\' life ? lias not life always disappeared from organized matter 



310 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

before putridity has taken place in it ? And is it not a funda- 
mental law of nature, that the affirmative of this question is and 
must be true? 

Such were, in substance, the several topics which the candidate 
undertook to handle ; and which he did handle with a degree of 
ability and success altogether unexpected and surprising to the 
advocates of putridity, and not to be resisted by them. Though 
the doctrine of putridity was not instantly destroyed, yet was it 
so stunned and crippled by the blow he bestowed on it, that it 
never recovered ; and with all physiologists who are worthy of 
the title, it is now but the name of an obsolete error. 

A few months after graduating in medicine, Dr. Seybert, having 
married into a wealthy family in Philadelphia, commenced the 
practice of his profession ; and of his success and its issue he 
gave me the following ludicrous account: "I made," said he, 
"the first year, a thousand dollars, which, my friends told me, 
opened to me an encouraging prospect. And I did not myself 
consider it a very discouraging one. But the second year, 
though I was equally regular in being at home and in my office, 
equally attentive to all the professional calls made on me, and all 
the cases placed under my care, and equally successful in the 
treatment of them, T made but five hundred dollars. And, con- 
sidering it sound logic to infer that the third year I should make 
nothing at all, I abandoned my profession, or rather gave it a 
kick for its having abandoned me, and have never since felt a 
pulse or uncased a lancet." 

At that period, our druggists, apothecaries, and other dealers 
in the article, received all their camphor from Europe ; there 
being, in the United States, no establishment for the clarification 
or refinement of the crude drug. Availing himself, therefore, of 
his knowledge of chemistry, Dr. Seybert lost no time in preparing 
for the process of clarification, and commencing and pursuing it 
with vigor, and a degree of success far beyond his utmost expec- 
tation. Such, indeed, was the rapidity with which his means in- 
creased by it, that in the space of a few years, he found himself 
enabled to retire from the business, possessed of an ample and 
independent fortune. 

He now turned his attention to national politics, and was 
elected a member of the House of Representatives of the United 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 311 

States, in which he served with reputation, not as a speaker, but 
as an able and laborious business man, and, which is a much 
higher encomium, as an honest man, for two terms. During 
those four years, he devoted his intervals of leisure from public 
service to the composition and publication of a large and valuable 
work on the statistics of the United States. 

His wife having died not long after his marriage, he was now 
a widower, with one son, his only child, on whom he was ambi- 
tious to bestow an education of the highest order. For the accom- 
plishment of that, he visited Europe, in company with his son, 
with whom, in some of the best and most celebrated institutions 
of the Continent, he spent several years, in anxious watchfulness 
over his progress in knowledge and the cultivation of morals — 
not ncylreiing his manners and accomplishments as a gentleman. 
Returning to his native country, he visited most of the promi- 
nent sections of it, again in company with his son, to afford him 
an opportunity of inspecting in person, and comparing the gene- 
ral condition of its inhabitants with the condition of the inhabit- 
ants of those parts of Europe through which he had travelled. 

In the year 1821, 1 met him in Europe again, still the associate 
and mentor of his son, whose attainments in certain branches of 
physical science he was yet superintending. They parted from 
me in London, on the commencement of a pedestrian tour (the 
object of which was geology and mineralogy) through various 
parts of England, especially I think among the highlands of 
Wales. That was my last interview with Dr. Seybert, whom I 
had then known near thirty years, acting successively as pupil, 
physician, chemist, statesman, author, and traveller, in each of 
which capacities he had acquitted himself with credit. 

When I again visited Europe, in the year 18-41, I met the son 
in Paris, who confirmed the report which had previously reached 
me, that his father died in that place some years anteriorly, and 
then lav entombed in the Lire La Chaise, one of the most beau- 
tiful and celebrated cemeteries in the world. 

Having spoken both extensively and unceremoniously of the 
opinions, writings, and actions of Dr. Rush (representing by them 
in part the multiplicity and diversity' of his performances while 
livingV the point of my narrative, at which I have arrived, calls 



312 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

on me now to make a few remarks on the subject of his death. 
But of that my account must be brief and general. 

The event occurred in Philadelphia, on the 19th day of April, 
in the year 1S13. The complaint of which the doctor died, was 
the malignant epidemic pneumony or peripneumony, which pre- 
vailed very extensively and fatally at the time, in various parts 
of the United States. The complaint had commenced its ravages 
some years previously, in the New England States, and spread 
gradually but slowly toward the west and south, until it had 
overrun a large proportion of the United States. 

It is a fact not unworthy to be remarked and held in remem- 
brance, that, be the cause what it may, such have been the com- 
mencement and course of every epidemic that has swept over 
the United States for the last fifty or sixty years, and how much 
longer, I pretend not to say. All complaints of the kind have 
commenced their career in the northeast, and directed toward 
the southwest. In proof of this, I might cite from four to six 
visitations of the country by influenza, which I myself have 
witnessed and distinctly remember ; at least three visitations by 
epidemic measles ; the Asiatic cholera ; and the epidemic peri- 
pneumony, to which reference has just been made. All these 
have come from the northeast. Nor, has a single epidemic, 
general in its spread, travelled within my remembrance in any 
other direction. As far as I am informed, these facts have not 
been duly observed and appreciated ; nor of course, therefore, 
has their cause been made a subject of satisfactory investigation. 
Yet it is a fundamental element of the history and philosophy of 
epidemics in the United States. But it belongs to meteorology, 
one of the most subtle and recondite branches of physical science. 

Of the circumstances of Dr. Bush's death, there was a singular 
concealment, but whether intentional or accidental, is wholly 
unknown to me. To employ a more fashionable form of expres- 
sion, there hung around it a mystery which I could not pene- 
trate, and which all persons with whom I spoke respecting it 
were equally unable to dissipate or solve. I never even knew 
who were the doctor's attending physicians. But I was distinctly 
and positively assured, that they were neither his colleagues of 
the Faculty, nor any of the ablest practitioners of the city. Nor 
do I indeed know that he had any regular medical attendant at 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 313 

all. The report was that he prescribed for himself, and fell a 
victim to the abuse of his own lancet ; but whether the report 
was true or otherwise I am uninformed. But he did not appear 
to me to die as a great teacher and practitioner ought to have died, 
under the professional care of the ablest and most experienced 
physicians of the time. Nor was the door of his dwelling sur- 
rounded, during his illness, by crowds of anxious and sorrowing 
inquirers after his condition, and the prospect of his recovery. 
Philadelphia did not seem to feel that the life of one of the greatest 
and most estimable of her citizens was in danger. 

Wliy this cynical indifference of the community respecting the 
illness of Dr. Rush prevailed, I pretend not to know. But that 
it did prevail ] do know, because I witnessed it. Nor, when his 
death was announced did the effect produced by it amount to 
either a shock, or a flood of tears from the eyes of the citizens 
generally, or even of those of his own immediate neighborhood. 
That the event produced excitement is true; and so would have 
dene the death of any Other old and respectable citizen who had 
resided and aeted in the place for more than half a century, filled 
with honesty and usefulness Borne public station and reared a 
large and interesting family. These sevoral things Dr. Rush 
had done; and the effect produced by the annunciatiou of his 
death corresponded with them as accurately as if he had never 
by his achievements, in any maimer or degree exceeded them. 
Not a single act of high-wrought observance and veneration 
occurred, to mark the occasion and render it memorable. No 
cloud of woe descended on the city sufficiently deep and dark to 
indicate the death of a great man, who had long been the pride 
and boast of the country — who had figured as a distinguished 
Revolutionary patriot, whose life had been a galaxy of the labors 
and deeds of philanthropy, and who had been for forty years the 
acknow lodged cynosure of American medicine. Such, I mean, is 
the general character in which Dr. Rush was uniformly arrayed, 
when popular report presented him to the public. Yet, I repeat 
that the sensation with which the annunciation of his decease 
was received, and the manifestations made on the occasion, did 
not depict in lines and colors sufficiently strong the grief that 
might have been expected to arise from the loss of a personage at 
once so profoundly veuerated, admired, and beloved. Nor is the 



314 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

comparatively slight impression which the immediate death of 
Dr. Rush produced on the mind of the community in which he 
had lived, the only fact that favors the belief which has been 
often expressed, that the reputation he bore as a philosopher and 
physician was in its nature popular and temporary, rather than 
solid and lasting. 

That at least the medical profession of the country at large did 
not feel a very cordial and deep-rooted interest in either his 
person and character, or his opinions and practice, is sufficiently 
evinced by the two following considerations, which deserve to be 
recorded: — 

1. No member of the profession, of any standing, either 
volunteered his services, or could even be induced to pronounce 
on him a eulogy. 

2. All his own peculiar opinions, theories, and doctrines, 
which he had elaborated so assiduously, cherished so fondly and 
enthusiastically, and in which he confided as the pillars of his 
fame, expired with himself. Some of them, indeed, he even 
survived. 

In saying that no physician of standing either offered his 
services, accepted an 'appointment, or complied with a request to 
deliver a public eulogy on the life and character of Dr. Rush, I 
confine my remark to the city of Philadelphia. Nor do I know 
that such a tribute was paid to his memory by a distinguished, 
or even respectable physician in any other place, except in 
Charleston, where his pupil and friend Dr. Ramsay, as already 
mentioned, performed the office with great earnestness and some 
ability. 

I was myself several times solicited, and at length earnestly 
pressed, as if on a point of indispensable duty, to prepare and 
deliver on my "old preceptor, a eulogy such as he deserved from 
my pen." Such was the language of the gentleman who urged 
me on the subject. Nor did he fail to add: "You are known to 
have delivered many more eulogies on deceased friends and 
acquaintances, than any other man in Philadelphia. If, therefore, 
you refuse now, the act will be attributed to motives which I 
cannot believe you to feel ; and which you ought not to allow the 
world even to suspect you capable of feeling." Yet I did refuse, 
regardless of the opinion of the world on the subject ; and for 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 315 

reasons very different from those which, by most persons, were 
probably ascribed to rne. Nor do I hesitate or blush (after the 
space of more than an average lifetime of reflection on them) to 
avow the motives which led to my refusal. I yielded to them 
because I regarded them, and still regard them, as correct and 
creditable. 

I acknowledge that, on the death of my ''old preceptor," I 
instinctively forgot, as matters of feeling, everything relating to 
him except the courtesies and kindnesses he had shown me, on my 
first acquaintance with him, in the character of a pupil. The 
injustice and wrongs he had afterwards repeatedly done me, the 
prejudices against me he had excited and fostered, and the obstacles 
he had placed in the way of my promotion, were all forgotten; 
and I felt a conviction, not to be dismissed, that, were I to lift 
my pen, under the influence of the feelings that swayed me, I 
should employ it in the preparation of an undeserved encomium, 
in direct violation of strict justice. Nor had the ill-founded and 
dangerous precept "De mortuis nil nisi bonum" ceased to operate 
on me, when, two years afterward, I consented to write a sketch 
of the life of Dr. Hush for Delapkan^t Repository. For, though 
in that memoir reference to some of that gentleman's failings are 
not wanting, the article, on the whole, is sufficiently laudatory. 

Bo is a eulogy on the doctor, delivered a short time after his 
decease, by the Reverend Dr. Staughton, of Philadelphia. So, in- 
deed, were numbers of obituary paragraphs, published in news- 
papers in various parts of the country, and written bv persons 
who knew little of the subject of them, but made up their notices 
of commonplace rumors. As far as I remember, no other eulo- 
gies on Dr. Rush were delivered : or, if delivered, they were not 
published; or, if both delivered and published, they never found 
their way to me. 

Certain it is, that he was not formally eulogized by the Ameri- 
can Philosophical Society, bv the Medical Faculty of the Uni- 
versity of Pennsylvania, of which he was a member, by the 
Medical Society of Philadelphia, nor, as far as my memory serves 
me, by any other literary or scientific institution in the country. 
In a word, all the circumstances which immediately accompanied 
his death, as well as those which followed it, clearly demonstrated 
that, though his reputation was sufficiently broadcast throughout 



316 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

the United States, it had not taken such deep and permanent 
root as to indicate his being generally regarded as a very great 
man. 

What I have already said of Dr. Eush, I now repeat, with a 
slight addition. He was "very distinguished," because, in all he 
did, whether mentally or corporeally, he manifested peculiar 
activity and grace. But he was not "great," because he never 
manifested either power or majesty. Sufficiently acquainted 
with himself to know that his strength was comparatively limited, 
he had the good sense never to engage in anything gigantic. 
His sagacity and discretion induced and enabled him to appor- 
tion, with sufficient accuracy, his enterprises to his ability. 

Dr. Rush possessed scholastic and general literature in a highly 
respectable, but by no means in a pre-eminent degree. His 
knowledge, moreover, of medical, was much more extensive than 
that of polite literature ; and either of them was more extensive 
than his knowledge of science ; for, notwithstanding his popu- 
lar reputation to the contrary, he was far from being a deep and 
thorough-bred philosopher. That he was a man of knowledge 
rather than of science, is palpable from the cast and character of 
his writings. Among all of them there is not a single scientific 
work ; nor is there one that is the product of the higher facul- 
ties of the mind ; I mean the reasoning faculties — those that trace 
causes from effects, and effects from causes. Dr. Rush's works 
are full of analogies ; but of real causation, in the form of sound 
argument, they are singularly barren. True, though he generally 
assumes his original positions, which are neither self-evident nor 
established by proof, yet he often attempts to deduce from them, 
by a chain of reasoning, other positions, as legitimate consequences. 
But in this he rarely, if ever, succeeds. His chain is either 
defective in links, or the links are composed of such heterogeneous 
materials, that they are entirely wanting in mutual adhesiveness, 
and therefore fall asunder on the first touch of opposition. In 
other cases, there exists no natural connection between his pre- 
mises and sequences. In truth, not only are his materials often 
unfit for the purposes to which he applies them, they are also 
badly put together, by his want of skill in the art of reasoning, i 

Does any one charge me with doing injustice to the mental 
abilities of Dr. Rush by these strictures ? If so, I reply that the 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 317 

charge is groundless ; and I could easily prove it so, by a fair 
critical analysis of any and every page of the doctor's writings, 
in which lie has exhibited a specimen of his reasoning. 

That the knowledge of the doctor, like that of other men, ivas 
influenced in its character, and that his mode of communicating 
it was also influenced, by the habits in writing and lecturing of 
the age in which he lived and flourished, cannot be doubted. 
But not a little of his peculiarity, in both respects, was the pro- 
duet of the peculiarity of his own mind. 

For though Dr. Rush had not an original mind, in the highest 
and most desirable interpretation of that term (for it is not 
known to me that he ever made a discovery in science), yet was 
his mind possessed of qualities which gave it an approach to 
originality, by disposing and enabling him to give a new cast to 
the knowledge he attained. And, in consideration of the mixture 
of fancy the east contained, it had a strong attraction for youthful 
minds. As far as quality availed, therefore, it fitted him well to 
be a public teacher, by rendering his lectures agreeable to his 
pupils. 

That fitness, however, high as it was, yielded to another of 
which he was possessed in a pre-eminent degree — a peculiar faculty 
(for such 1 may call it) of rendering his pupils enthusiastically 
attached to the profession of medicine. In that he surpassed any 
other teacher 1 have ever known. And from my vivid remem- 
brance of it, and the benefits which I myself derived from it, I 
deem it the most valuable qualification he possessed. To me it 
was so valuable, as to benefit me more than all his other qualifi- 
cations in mass. 

1 have already avowed that, as a profession, medicine was not 
my first choice. Although 1 engaged in the* study of it, and 
therefore resolved to become as thoroughly versed in the know- 
ledge of it as I could, my attention was not at first entirely en- 
grossed by it. I studied it as a duty rather than as a pleasure — 
as a means o{' becoming useful to others, and of gratifying my 
persona] ambition by attaining in it distinction and rank, rather 
than as a pursuit that was in accordance with my feelings. And 
thus things remained with me, until I commenced my attendance 
on Dr. Hush's lectures. And his enthusiasm in teaching, proving 
contagious, soon rendered me enthusiastic in my studies. Nor 



318 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

did that condition of mind fail to be perpetuated and increased 
by the influence of two other causes — the beauties which I began 
to discover in the philosophy of medicine — and my ambition and 
ability to qualify myself for a medical professorship. The pro- 
fessorship moreover being attained, my pride, sense of duty, and 
continued ambition to acquit myself, as a public teacher, with 
whatever of merit and credit I could achieve, have all united in 
maintaining, for more than half a century, my enthusiasm in 
medical studies, which was first completely awakened by the 
enthusiasm of Dr. Bush, in the delivery of his lectures, and in 
occasional interviews and conversations, with which he favored 
me. 

For whatever amount of medical knowledge I possess, there- 
fore, I frankly acknowledge myself much more indebted to him 
than to all other men, whether living or dead. My indebtedness, 
however, has not arisen from the measure of knowledge which he 
himself communicated to me, either in his lectures or by other 
modes of intercourse ; but from that which he induced me to 
acquire by my own labors. That, however, is nearly all that a 
public teacher can do. He cannot actually infuse into his pupils 
more than a very moderate stock of knowledge. He can only 
teach them how to teach themselves, induce them to avail them- 
selves of the advantages he bestows on them, and fit them to 
employ the same for their own benefit. 

Dr. Bush, however, taught me how to teach myself, and induced 
me to adopt a method to that effect, the reverse of that which is 
usually pursued by pupils toward their preceptors. The method 
commonly practised by pupils is, to adopt as correct the ideas 
communicated by their teachers, and employ them as nuclei, 
around which to assemble other ideas ; or to use them otherwise 
as means to aid in the accomplishment of such schemes as they 
may be engaged in at the time, or may subsequently commence. 

But in that way, Dr. Bush taught me very little, if anything 
at all. The reason is plain. I adopted very few of his opinions 
or notions that were peculiarly his own. Though, in matter or 
manner, or both, they were almost always agreeable and attractive, 
they were rarely if ever, in my view, either solid or convincing. 

It is with no feelings of unfriendliness or disrespect toward 
the memory of Dr. Bush, that I assert that, to the best of my 



CI1ARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 319 

recollection, I do not, at this time, hold or believe in the sound- 
ness and utility of a single sentiment or opinion peculiarly his 
own, which he endeavored to fix in my mind, when I was a stu- 
dent under him, or practising as a young physician by his side. 
To this the doctrine of the domestic origin of yellow fever is per- 
hapi an exception. 

One trait more in the character of Dr. Rush remains to be 
mentioned, which I regard as among the most praiseworthy he 
i. It is his spirit of independence, which emboldened 
and sustained him in being in all respects an American and a free- 
man, while very many of his compatriots, whose standing was in 
other respects elevated and commanding, wire still far too humbly 
deferring to the "mother country," and half crouchiug in her 
presence under the cravenly implied admission, that our condi- 
tion, in relation to her, was still ca&onial. In the midst of these 
circumstances, and in proud defiance of them, the doctor spoke, 
and wrote, and acted with an open and independent manliness 
which was in a high degree creditable to him, and which it 
rejoices me to record. The time when, and the condition in 
which a man acts, in even a moderate way, speak frequently 
much more strongly and emphatically in his praise, than could 
the most elevated and meritorious deeds, performed under cir- 
cumstances more favorable and encouraging. 

Such was Dr. Rush, a distinguished and extraordinary, but not 
a great man. I repeat that not one of his works is characterized 
by either sublimity of thought, great scope of conception, force of 
expression, or profundity of penetration and research, lie pos- 
sessed little else than a name in philosophy. Had he devoted 
himself to it, he would have made an excellent and distinguished 
writer of light essays on life, manners, and minor morals. In 
the composition of B certain vein of fiction he might have been 
also successful ; and so fruitful and varied were his powers of 
analogy, that had they been sufficiently exact, he might, had he 
so applied himself, have become almost a second ^Esop in the 
production of fables. 

On the death of Dr. Bush, Dr. Barton, though wholly unquali- 
fied for the duties of it, was transferred to the chair which he 
had held in the medical school, and continued in it for two or 
three sessions before his death. 



320 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

To the chair of materia medica, from which Dr. Barton had 
been transferred, Dr. Chapman was elected, and discharged the 
duties of it with a degree of satisfaction to the public, and credit 
to himself, which, under the disadvantage of the very limited 
time he had for preparation, has rarely been equalled, and never, 
perhaps, surpassed. But in that chair he did not long remain. 

On the death of Dr. Barton, which occurred a short time after- 
ward, Dr. Chapman was transferred to the professorship left 
vacant by that event, and which Dr. Bush had previously held. 
Nor has he failed to discharge the arduous and important duties 
of it, for more than the third of a century, with a degree of ability 
and distinction which neither praise can brighten nor condemna- 
tion make dim. 

The professor's reputation is now an electron per se } that shines 
with no borrowed light, but with an innate lustre, which makes 
an element of itself. 



CHARLES CALDWELL, if. D. 321 



CHAPTER XL 

War of 1R1'2 — Tort Folio — Nicholas Riddle — No contributors — Contents — Officers of 
the army — Events of the war — Gen. Rrown — His character — Theatre — Quakers 
— Notes to Cullen — Chapman — Faculty of Physical Science — Appointed to a 
professorship — Dr. Cooper — Charles Hare, Esq. — Death of Dr. Wistar — Pro- 
nounce 11 eulogy on him — Hev. Dr. Ilolley — Invited to Lexington, Kentucky — 
Resign my professorship in Philadelphia — Character of Cooper — Priestley com- 
pared with Cooper. 

In tlic year 1812, an event occurred in the city of Philadelphia, 
which added very materially to the amount of my literary labors, 
and extended not a little the sphere of my influence and my 
intercourse with the distinguished men of the country. 

The war of that date against Great Britain had just been 
declared, and in every spot of the Union was seen the stir, and 
heard the note of preparation to meet it. The present time, 
therefore, was marked by great excitement, and the future pro- 
mised to lie, at no distant period, much more eventful than any 
that had occurred since our revolutionary struggles. And there 
was in the United States but one publication well calculated to 
be the chronicle of the occurrences and scenes that were about to 
present themselves. That was the Port Folio, a Philadelphia 
periodical of high repute, from the editorial labors of which the 
late Nicholas Piddle had just retired. 

To become the immediate successor of that gentleman, whose 
abilities in point of mind, attainments as a scholar, and accom- 
plishments as a writer were of a high order, was an enterprise 
involving no common share of hazard. To myself, moreover, 
deeply occupied as my mind and pen already were on several 
other engrossing subjects, the hazard was necessarily by such 
considerations in no ordinary degree augmented. 

To me, however, in the midst of all the difficulties, hazards, 
and responsibilities that surrounded it, the overture to become 
Mr. Piih lie's successor was made by the proprietor of the journal. 
21 



322 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

Nor was I slow in the formation of my resolution on the subject. 
To enterprise and what the world calls difficulty, I was instinct- 
ively attached. And as I was not accustomed to pause long at 
hazard, much less to shrink from it, the term had hardly a place 
in my vocabulary. I therefore accepted the proposal in less 
than a minute, and in less than an hour began to prepare for the 
performance of the duty it enjoined. 

Nor have I ever had cause to regret, much less repent of that 
promptness in determination and action, which my friends have 
deemed rashness. In relation to subjects which we fully under- 
stand, first impressions are usually correct. He that pauses in 
such a case, shows either a want of clear perception, a want of 
sufficient decision, or a joint want of both. Be the undertaking 
therefore, what it may, he manifests a want of fitness for it, and 
ought to decline engaging in it. 

The general opinion is, that, when a new proposal of business 
is made to a young man, it is wise in him to inquire, advise, and 
deliberate maturely, before deciding on his course in relation to 
it. Nor do I pronounce the opinion erroneous. Yet do I unhesi- 
tatingly assert that I never reduced it to practice without having 
reason to regret what I had done, and to be dissatisfied with the 
result. I have uniformly succeeded in my schemes with most 
certainty and decisiveness when I embarked in them without 
the consent and advice of my friends, or in opposition to them. 
The reason is plain, when I embarked alone, without advice, or 
in opposition to it, I depended exclusively on my own exertions 
for success in the enterprise. I therefore exerted myself with all 
the energy and perseverance I could summon to my aid. In the 
seaman's homely but significant expression, I worked "with a 
will," and conquered success. But when I acted under counsel 
and advice, I depended for success too much on what are called 
the "circumstances of the case." And they have too often 
deceived me. In truth they always deceive, unless they are 
strenuously and skilfully employed as operative instruments. 

It was thus I entered on the editorship of the Port Folio, a 
monthly journal, in the year 1812, and under an engagement to 
furnish for each number ninety-eight pages of matter, the princi- 
pal portion of it to be original. The writers for periodicals in 
the United States were not, at that period, a twentieth part as 



CHARLES CALDWELL, Iff. D. 323 

numerous as they are now ; nor had I a single one engaged even 
by promise, much less by hire, to act as an auxiliary. And I 
was myself engaged at the time in three other sorts of employ- 
ment — the practice of medicine, medical composition, and the 
delivery of lectures on the philosophy of medicine and medical 
jurisprudence. 

Under these circumstances, some of my friends deemed me 
already crazy, or doomed soon to become so by mental over- 
action. Others considered me, if not actually deranged in mind. 
at least imprudent in the extreme. And a third class felt confi- 
dent that, whatever might be the condition of mv intellect, I had 
greatly overtasked it: and that I would necessarily fail in some of 
mv duties, or destroy my health, and perhaps my life in mv 
efforts I" perform them. And they all most seriously remonstrated 
with me to these several effects, each in his and her own way. 

Finding me not deal', but inexorable to their remonstrances and 
entreaties, they at length left me to mv fate, regarding me as the 
most infatuated and obstinate of men. 

Yet did I never Bucceed more easily and perfectly in any of 
my projects. 

Not only did I pursue and execute to the usual and necessary 
extent my other forms of occupation, the Port Folio soon be- 
came much more popular than it was when I took charge of it. 
or than it had ever been previously ; and, by the end of the first 
six months from the commencement of my editorship of it, its 
catalogue of subscribers had increased five and twenty per cent. 
Nor was this all. Certain gentlemen, very delicately sensitive 
as to the dispositions made of the productions of their pens, who 
had, with ceremonious politeness declined writing for the journal 
when I first took the direction of it, felt now flattered by permis- 
sion to have the product of their lucubrations inserted in its 
pages. And the whole was the result of obstinate and perse- 
vering industry which never flagged, united to a resolution which 
never faltered. 

Convinced that the most interesting and attractive matter the 
Port Folio could contain, would be accounts of the events and 
transactions of the war, I lost no time in making arrangements 
for the procurement of them. With most of the principal officers 
of our armv and navy 1 was already acquainted. And I soon 



324 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

formed an acquaintance and established a regular correspondence 
with all of them. I proposed to them that, provided they would 
furnish me with correct and condensed reports of such striking 
and interesting occurrences as might admit of being so handled, 
I would cause them to be promptly published and widely circu- 
lated. My offer was eagerly accepted ; the officers generally were 
faithful to their engagements; and I never failed to be punctual 
to mine. And thus, I have reason to believe, we were both 
creditable and useful to each other. 

So earnest and determined was General Brown in our scheme, 
that he asserted, in one of his letters, that he reported himself, and 
ordered his officers to report themselves, in their connection with 
all interesting events of the army, as regularly to the editor of 
the Port Folio, as they did to him, or as he did to the Secretary 
of War. 

I avail myself of this opportunity to say, from my own know- 
ledge of him, that Gen. Brown was, in the true and strongest 
import of the expression, an extraordinary man, one of the most 
extraordinary our country has produced. Had he lived and 
retained his health and vigor until the usual period of the decline 
of the latter from age, that he would have been President of 
the United States is hardly doubtful. The rapidity and other 
circumstances of his engagement and rise in military life were 
strikingly singular, not to say astonishing. 

He was born and bred a plain Quaker, in no very noted part 
of Pennsylvania, and had been for many years a Quaker school- 
master, nor, as far as I am informed, had he been known in any 
other capacity, save that of a surveyor of public lands, and a 
militia officer with the rank of brigadier general, in a peaceful 
time, until the commencement of our war of 1812 with Great 
Britain. He then resided in New York, near to Sacket's Harbor, 
at the east end of Lake Ontario, where our country was invaded 
by the British forces, and hostilities became active, resolute and 
alarming. Nor were our first conflicts with the foe very creditable 
to our arms. 

In this unpromising condition of our affairs in that quarter, 
General Brown took the field with a portion of his undisciplined 
brigade, and was the first on the Canadian frontier to repulse a 
body of British regulars, far superior in number to his own 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 325 

command. In this attack, made at a time and under circumstances 
selected by himself, the loss of the enemy in killed and wounded 
was heavy ; while, singular as it may appear, the Americans lost 
not a single man. 

General Brown's next encounter with the foe was at Sacket's 
Harbor, were he fought a much more desperate battle and gained 
a more signal and important victory. The British force was 
again superior in number, and consisted entirely of veteran troops. 

At the head of four hundred regulars and about a thousand 
militia, Brown made the attack. The action was fierce, obstinate, 
and bloody; and appearances at times were unfavorable to the 
Americans. But the skill of the commander, and the valor of 
his troops proved irresistible; and the British veterans were 
driven back to their boats, and compelled to embark in great 
confusion, after an engagement of several hours, in which they 
lost in killed, wounded, and prisoners, four hundred and fifty of 
their number. The American loss was one hundred and fifty. 

In these two battles, bul especially in the latter, General Brown 
gave such decisive evidence of his heroism and high military 
talents and skill, that he was soon afterward promoted to the rank 
of Major General, and Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the 
North. 

The winter preceding his promotion, but subsequent to his 
victory at Sacket's Harbor, he had devoted himself to two 
measures of vital importance; the discipline of his troops, and the 
renovation of their spirit and confidence in themselves and their 
officers, which, by a series of reverses, before he had taken 
command of them, they had unfortunately lost. And in both he- 
was successful; which prepared him for his brilliant campaign 
the following summer of 1814. That, he commenced by an invasion 
of Canada, where his first act was to carry Fort Erie, which 
surrendered without resistance. He then, after two desperate 
battles, in both of which the enemy was superior to him in 
n ambers, gained the two splendid victories of Chippewa and the 
Falls, on the latter of which occasions he was severely wounded, 
but kept the field until victorv had declared for him, though so 
weakened by the loss of blood that his attendants were obliged 
to support him on his horse. 

General Brown's reputation being now in its meridian, without 



326 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

a speck to obscure its lustre, and his army having retired into 
winter quarters, he availed himself of the opportunity to visit 
Washington (Congress being in session), the first time he had 
ever trodden the spacious avenues of the capital, or mingled in 
the circles of the gay and the fashionable. His manners had lost 
nothing of their original simplicity ; his countenance was strong, 
expressive and comely; his person manly, well proportioned, and 
rather elegant ; and his general deportment dignified and not un- 
graceful; and yet he appeared to much more advantage in the 
camp than he did in the drawing-room. 

The first time for many years (I believe the first time in his 
life) he had witnessed a theatrical exhibition, was in Philadelphia, 
on the present occasion, and I had the honor to be his gentleman 
usher to the audience. As already mentioned, his celebrity was 
at its zenith; the whole city was anxious to see and salute him; 
I had procured for him a conspicuous seat; the city papers had 
announced that he would attend the play (Richard III., the per- 
formance which had been requested of the managers for his 
entertainment), and the house, in box, pit, and gallery, was jam- 
med almost to bone crushing. Even the lobbies were so crowded 
that the party which accompanied him could scarcely make its 
way through them. And no sooner had we reached the front of 
our box, the general leaning on my arm, than the house became 
a scene of stunning uproar, which actually startled him. " Hail 
Columbia," burst from the orchestra; the whole audience rose 
simultaneously, the gentlemen saluted with cheer on cheer, which 
threatened to be interminable ; the ladies waved their handker- 
chiefs ; and clusters of flowers (artificial of course) flew as thickly 
toward the general, as had ever bullets done in the hottest of his 
battles. Meantime the hero, who had been adamant amidst the 
clashing of bayonets and swords, the roar of fire arms of every 
description, and showers of grape-shot, was now in a tremor of 
agitation, and asked me in a voice of half distress, "what he 
should do ?" when my reply was equally brief and imperative— 
"Stand still, until this Niagara uproar shall have ceased; then 
bow to the audience, take your seat, and attend to the players ;" 
all which he did, and the evening passed off pleasantly, until the 
curtain dropped, when the audience gave him three parting cheers, 
and he returned to his hotel, and they to their dwellings. A 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 327 

large crowd, however, follower] him, and again cheered him as he 
entered his lodging, and then retired. The welcome was closed 
by the arrival of a fine band of music, which serenaded him for 
an hour with military airs, and all was quiet. 

Such was the reception of General Brown, the fighting Quaker, 
in the Quaker city of " Brotherly Love," the most enthusiastic 
and exciting bestowed on any officer during the then existing 
war. And though few, if any, of them actually united in the 
ceremony, yet was no other portion of the inhabitants of Phila- 
delphia so sincerely delighted by the compliment thus paid to 
General Brown, as were the Quakers, the society of Christians of 
which he had once been a member. 

In my labors, as editor of the Port Folio, I was materially 
benefited also by my correspondence with our naval commanders. 
In communicating to me their transactions at sea, they were 
equally punctual with the officers of the army. Of every naval 
victory gained by them, I received a report as early, accurate, 
and circumstantial, as did the Secretary of the Navy himself. 
Nor did I fail to record it with the utmost expedition, and in 
colors as glowing, accompanied by sentiments as complimentary 
to our arms, and as flattering to the pride of the nation, as I was 
able to command. By a faithful pursuit of this course, I believed 
then, and still believe, that I ministered somewhat to sundry 
interests — that of letters — of my country — of the proprietor of 
the journal I conducted — and of myself. 

Nor was it by publishing in it accounts of military and naval 
events only that I contributed to the popularity and extended cir- 
culation of the Port Folio. I ministered to the same purpose by 
preparing and inserting in it succinct biographical notices of our 
military and naval officers. And this I did without any distinc- 
tion between the dead and the living. Several of those whose 
lives 1 briefly sketched are still living, in the performance of 
their duty to their country and themselves. 

All the most valuable matter that the journal contained was, of 
course, not written by my own pen ; but it was all written by my 
procurement, and at my own hazard. 

Knowing that it was impossible lor me to execute, with my 
own pen, the whole amount and diversity of composition neces- 
sary to confer on the magazine the high and commanding charac- 



328 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

ter which I was determined it should attain and hold, I proposed 
to the proprietor of it to allow me to employ, as assistant writers, 
for a liberal compensation, the late Dr. Cooper and Judge Work- 
man, who then resided in Philadelphia, and were distinguished 
beyond most other men of the place by the strength and fertility 
of their talents, and their literary accomplishments. 

It was while I was editor of the Port Folio that I prepared and 
published in it biographical sketches of not only our military and 
naval officers, bat also of other public and distinguished men 
resident not alone in Philadelphia, but in various other parts of 
the United States. And I also inserted in it, during the same 
period, a large portion of my critique on Dr. Smith's essay on 
the Causes of the Variety of Figure and Color in the Human Race. 
At length, the work changed its owner ; and I retired from my 
editorial labors in it. 

About this period (1814-15), it became evident that an enter- 
prise, in which I had long and strenuously labored (the introduc- 
tion into the medical school of Philadelphia of a chair of the 
institutes of medicine, and my own appointment to occupy it), 
would fail. My open dissatisfaction at this (for I practised no 
concealment), and frequent conferences between certain other 
physicians and myself that were not allowed to pass unnoticed, 
led to a belief that I was about to attempt the establishment of 
another school. And that attempt, as heretofore mentioned, I 
would certainly have made, could I have drawn around me, in 
the enterprise, physicians qualified to carry it into effect. 

Desirous to discourage such an attempt, and wishing to do 
something acceptable to me, Dr. Chapman, with whom I was on 
familiar and amicable terms, proposed to me to add a system of 
notes to Culleiis First Lines of the Practice of Physic, and Ameri- 
canize it, and make it a work to which he might refer as a text- 
book in his lectures. 

Acceding to his proposal, I lost no time in commencing my 
labors which grew out of it ; and in the autumn of 1816, the 
work, containing a series of notes, more voluminous, I believe, 
than the text itself, was issued from the press. And faithful to 
his engagement, Dr. Chapman used it as his text-book for a 
period of not less, I think, than ten or twelve years. In the 
year 1822 (the first edition of the work being exhausted), I pub- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 329 

lished a second ; and both editions have been now many years 
out of print. 

From an early date in the present century, nearly all the pupils 
that resorted to the medical school of Philadelphia from the 
Mississippi Valley, especially those from Kentucky, procured 
through some channel an introduction to me. Most of them, 
indeed, brought to me introductory letters from physicians of the 
West, to whom I was known. As young strangers, far from 
home, many of them for the first time, I treated them kindly, 
invited them to all the discourses I delivered, ami gave to them 
such aid in their studies as was convenient to myself, and as I 
deemed most useful to them. This of course rendered me a fa- 
vorite with them ; and as soon as I commenced my independent 
lectures, most of them were uniformly my pupils. This inter- 
course with them drew from them cordial and even pressing in- 
vitations to me to migrate to the West, and establish there a medi- 
cal school. I received, moreover, from western physicians not a 
few letters earnestly urging me to the measure. At length, it 
heeame somewhat busily rumored abroad that I had actually re- 
ceived and accepted AD invitation to remove to Lexington, in 
Kentucky, and establish there a school of medicine. And many 
reports, resting on a less valid (at least a less likely) foundation, 
have circulated and proved true. For, though I had formed no 
actual engagement to that effect, yet had I firmly, though secretly, 
resolved to quit Philadelphia as soon as my son, who was then in 
Harvard University, should have finished his collegiate education, 
and try my fortune, most probably in the West. For my prospect 
of becoming, in Philadelphia, either then, or at any future time, 
more than a practitioner and private teacher of medicine, and an 
occasional maker of a speech, and writer of a book, was by no 
means promising. And that course of life was far short of my 
ambition, which, like an obstructed current, rose in proportion 
to the height of the dam that opposed it. Had I had two aux- 
iliaries of real and substantial talents, in whose fidelity and firm- 
ness I could have fully confided, I could have made my way in 
Philadelphia, through all the difficulties that were thrown across 
Bay path. Put I had not even one. And to succeed alone in my 
scheme was impossible. I had, therefore, in serious and solemn 
council with myself, resolved to try my fortune in another field. 



330 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

Nor, though I never spoke of them openly, did I fail perhaps to 
give hints and show signs indicative of my intention. 

Be the cause, however, what it might, the fact is certain that 
a suspicion of my meditating such design took possession of the 
mind of the medical Faculty, and produced in it no small disquie- 
tude. For a conviction was felt by the members of that body, 
that an establishment in the West would make from their school 
a serious revulsion of the influx of pupils from that quarter. 

A scheme was instituted by them, therefore, for a twofold 
purpose — to retain me in Philadelphia, and to propitiate me, if 
possible, to certain measures recently adopted in the medical 
school. The scheme was, the creation, in the University of 
Pennsylvania, of a new faculty called the " Faculty of Physical 
Sciences," and my election as a professor in it, associated with my 
friend, the late justly celebrated, not to say illustrious, Dr. 
Cooper, Charles Hare, Esq., a man of distinguished ability, and 
four other gentlemen of very respectable qualifications. In truth, 
there were in the Faculty of the Physical Sciences as much of 
talents and liberal attainments as in that of medicine. But for 
their labor there was but a very unpromising prospect of reward 
to them, other than the gratification of doing their duty, by 
endeavoring to enlighten the minds of the comparatively few 
individuals of the place who had any taste for the knowledge of 
nature. 

In this Faculty, Dr. Cooper's professorship was that of Mineral- 
ogy and Chemistry, connected with the Arts. Mr. Hare's, the 
Principles of Moral and Legal Science ; and mine, Geology and 
the Philosophy of Natural History. The exact titles of the other 
professorships I do not remember. 

Though all the professors of the Physical Faculty accepted 
their appointments, Dr. Cooper and myself alone delivered lectures 
in it. All our colleagues, except Mr. Hare, who delivered a 
single introductory lecture, were nothing but sleeping partners 
in the concern. 

In three successive years, I delivered four popular courses of 
lectures to classes highly respectable, as well in fashion as in 
talents and standing. I say " fashion," because no inconsiderable 
portion of my classes were ladies, some of them in the highest 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 331 

walk of fashion. And, in intellect and attainments, not a few of 
the gentlemen wlio attended me were of the elite of Philadelphia. 
Among my pupils were several lawyers, a number of the most 
respectable of the young physicians, and nearly all of the distin- 
guished clergymen of the city, with the Right Reverend Bishop 
White, one of the purest minded and most apostolical of prelates 
at their bead. In the course of my lectures, I broached several 
opi ii ions, respecting which the good bishop, deeming them too 
free to be perfectly canonical, held with me several serious con- 
versations. Though, on each occasion, I convinced him, at the 
moment, that there was in them nothing heterodox, or in any way 
unsound; yet, in his reflection on them when alone, did renewed 
doubts present themselves to him, which induced him to repeat his 
remonstrance with me not less than live or six times. At length, 
however, convinced that 1 was right, or believing me to be 
incorrigibly wrong in my opinions, he oflered no further ob- 
jections to them, and our conversations on the subjects of them 
came to a close. 

About this period, the Medical School of Philadelphia sus- 
tained, in the death of Dr. Wistar, Professor of Anatomy, a loss 
which it has not since, in the chair which he occupied, completely 
retrieved. For though that chair has been subsequently held by 
Dr. Physiok and Dr. Horner, both of them very able anatomists, 
neither of them equalled Dr. Wistar in eloquence, force, and 
attractiveness as a lecturer. For though, as heretofore stated, 
Dr. WistaT did not possess talents of the very highest order, yet 
did he employ them with such dexterity and impressiveness, as 
to produce cllects which were rarely reached, and in the same 
sphere, and under like circumstances, never perhaps surpassed 
by men of the highest and happiest taleuts. 

As Dr. Wistar possessed an uncommon amount of general 
popularity, as both a man and a physician, and was greatly be- 
loved by his acquaintance and friends, the regret and sorrow oc- 
casioned by his death were deep and extensive. The crowd that 
formed his funeral procession might be almost pronounced the 
population of Philadelphia. And the posthumous honors paid to 
his memory were numerous and significant. Among these were 
the two eulogies; one delivered by the Honorable Judge Tilghman, 
by direction of the American Philosophical Society, over which 



332 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OP 

Dr. "Wistar presided at the time of his death, and the other by 
myself, in compliance with an appointment to that effect by the 
Philadelphia Medical Society. And I am not sure that that event 
had not some influence in determining and shaping my subse- 
quent career. 

On that occasion, I saw the late Dr. Holley for the first time, 
and soon afterward made his acquaintance. And but for the "oc- 
casion," I probably should not have seen him. 

The spacious hall, in which the eulogy was delivered, being 
filled to a, perfect jam; and hundreds of individuals being com 
pelled to stand wherever they could find room ; just as I had ad- 
vanced toward the front of the platform, from which I spoke, to 
commence my address, the doctor, accompanied by a friend as his 
usher, entered the building and was obliged, for want of a seat, to 
take a station in the main passage, immediately in front of me. I 
perceived that he was a stranger of standing, entitled to attention, 
and his splendid and imposing appearance made an unusual and 
very favorable impression on me. I easily caught his eye, be- 
cause it was naturally fixed on myself. I therefore paused, 
bowed to him significantly, and pointed to the empty chair on the 
platform, from which I had just risen. As he did not immediately 
accept my silent invitation to the chair, I said to him, in a tone 
half beseeching, and half mandatory : " Pray, sir, oblige me by 
occupying this seat; I cannot speak, while you are standing." 
He smiled at what he afterward called my " word of command," 
ascended the steps, and seated himself in the chair, which I myself 
had removed toward the front of the stage. The audience ex- 
pressed, by momentary applause, their approbation of the act, and 
without further ceremony or interruption, the exercise com- 
menced, went on, and was concluded. 

On the close of my address, the doctor was the first to offer me 
his hand, thank me for the accommodation I had afforded him, 
and pay me the usual compliments of the occasion. Nor did he 
fail to make himself merry at my peremptory invitation, which, 
as already mentioned, he denominated my " word of command." 
Nor was he much less diverted by my next request, almost 
equally mandatory, when, holding his hands, I said to him: 
"Now, sir, do me the favor to tell me who you are?" a requisi- 
tion to which he made a prompt and satisfactory reply. Such 



CIIARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 333 

was the commencement of my acquaintance with that distin- 
guished gentleman, an event, the form and character of which he 
never forgot, and often said that he derived from it not a little 
knowledge of my own character. 

Dr. llolley was then on his way to Lexington, in Kentucky, 
by invitation, to negotiate arrangements for his acceptance of the 
Presidency of Transylvania University, which had been some 
time in his offer. Having completed those arrangements, and 
being | >];i< \"1 :it tin; head of that institution, he soon gave fresh 
and augmented vigor to the project already on foot of erecting 
in it a medical department. And it was then that he contributed 
all in his power to my being invited to take charge of that branch 
of the University, ami embark my fortune in it. That I should 
have: received my invitation without his aid, I have strong reason 
to believe. Indeed, 1 am confident I should. But that his car- 
ins! and vigorous advocacy of the measure hastened its completion 
cannot be doubted ; for bis popularity and influence with the 
Trustees of the University were then in their zenith. 

While the subject was under the consideration of the Board of 
Trustees iii Lexington, I addressed, to Dr. Samuel Brown of that 
place (but who was then in Philadelphia), at his own request, a 
letter containing my sentiments in full on the practicability and 
advantages of erecting ■ medical department in Transylvania 
University. That letter, without my knowledge, the doctor trans- 
mitted to Dr. llolley, w ho, as lie afterward informed rac, employed 
it to a good effect, in inducing the trustees to create the depart- 
ment, and invite me to a professorship in it. I might say, to the 
premiership in it : for that was really what they did. And that 
was practically the capacity in which I acted. 

In the month of August, 1819, while in the midst of the de- 
livery of a course o[' lectures on the Philosophy of Natural 
History, 1 received from the Board of Trustees of Transylvania 
University, situated in Lexington, Kentucky, an official notice of 
my appointment to a professorship, in the medical department of 
that institution. The chair I was to occupy was that of the Insti- 
tutes of Medieme and Clinical Practice. It was the same that had 
been, at one time, alone occupied by Dr. Rush, in the medical de- 
partment oi' the University of Pennsylvania, but was afterward 
united to the chair of the Theory and Practice of Physic. And 



33i AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

both were held by him from the time of their union until his 
death. The professorship had been created in Transylvania 
University expressly for me, by the advice of a friend, who 
knew that I would prefer it to any other to which I could be in- 
vited. As I was predetermined to leave Philadelphia, the offer 
from Transylvania was immediately accepted. Though the terms 
of it were not, in a pecuniary point of view, what I was entitled 
to expect, yet I was assured that they were the best the institu- 
tion, in the existing state of its finances, was able to offer. I 
therefore made no objection to them. I did not, indeed, even 
make in relation to them a single remark, but acted as if they 
were perfectly satisfactory. Hence, I finished my course of 
lectures, resigned my professorship in the University of Pennsyl- 
vania, and prepared for my removal to a new home and sphere 
of action in what was then denominated " Western America," 
but what now deserves the name of Central North America, and 
will hereafter be so designated. 

In the communication received from the Trustees of Transyl- 
vania, I was given to understand that, in case of my acceptance 
of the proffered appointment, I would be expected in Lexington 
by the first of the following November ; and the mouth of August 
was near its close. It was therefore requisite that, in two months 
and a few days, I should be at my distant post prepared for busi- 
ness; and the journey alone, at that period, rarely occupied less, 
and sometimes more than three weeks. Hence I had at command 
hub five weeks to prepare for a final abandonment of a place where 
I had resided twenty-seven years, and during twenty of them been 
a housekeeper and in business. And, added to other time-wasting 
engagements, it was necessary for me to visit Boston, and attend 
a public commencement in Harvard University, where my son was 
to receive the degree of Bachelor of Arts. 

To say that my work of preparation, to break up, in so short 
a period, a household and professional establishment of more than 
twenty years' duration, was intensely and even painfully pressing, 
would be superfluous. Nor would it be less so to add, that my 
purpose could not possibly be accomplished without heavy losses. 
The circumstances of the case demonstrate those truths with a 
perspicuity and force which no form of expression can reach. I 
shall not, therefore, attempt to describe, but shall leave untouched, 



CHAKLES CALDWELL, M. D. 335 

to the conception of the reader, the energy and assiduity with 
which I necessarily applied myself to the performance of the task. 
For my resolution was irrevocably fixed, that performed it should 
be in every essential point of requirement ; and that I would nut 
commence my new career of action, in a region and sphere that 
were also new, under the rightful imputation of a single delin- 
quency. I did everything connected with the subject, therefore, 
in person, or caused to be done under my own eye. I acted, 
moreover, by deliberate prearrangement and rule, leaving nothing 
to the influence of casualty, mere direction, or the option of 
others. Hence, nothing was done amiss from a want of know- 
ledge, nor left undone from supine or wanton negligence. N" 
failure or delay of one unnecessary movement retarded the in- 
ception, or marred or prevented the performance of another. A 
determination had been early formed to set out for the West on 
the sixth of October; and by the morning of that day I was in 
readiness for my journey, and commenced it at the appointed 
hour. And, notwithstanding unavoidable retardation by bad 
roads, an unprecedented want of water in the Ohio, and nearly 
two days' confinement by indisposition. I reached Lexington 
within a very short period of the time appointed. To the fore- 
going representation 1 shall only subjoin, that in the emergency 
just described, as in every other 1 have been called to encounter, 
my performance and success have been uniformly and precisely 
in proportion to the fitness of my prearrangement, and the steady 
perseverance practised in my resolution and strenuous endeavor 
to succeed. Nor, under the auspices of such preparations and the 
aid of such exertions and means, have 1 ever failed to do more 
than 1 anticipated doing. 

When preparing for the transfer of my home from Philadel- 
phia to the West, the only effort in which I failed, or experienced 
much difficulty, was to convince a few of my friends that I was 
not crazv. When 1 tirst broached to them my design to make 
the transfer, they exclaimed, in a body, that I was mad. To the 
exclamation 1 replied, with a smile: "Perhaps I am; though I am 
not consciously so. But most people are mad on some subject: 
and why not 1, as well as others?" — and immediately changed the 
subject of conversation. Finding that I spoke on all things as I 
had usually douc ; they recurred to my expressed intention to 



336 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

migrate to the West, and asked me whether I spoke seriously or 
in jest ? I answered with an emphasis on each word, and in 
a decisive tone and manner: " Seriously and firmly. My purpose 
is fixed; and nothing but death or disability can change it." 
Startled at the manner more perhaps than at the substance of my 
answer, they begged with some emotion, to be informed of my 
reasons for leaving Philadelphia, where, to use their own words, 
" I had done, and was still doing well." 

To this my reply was proud and contemptuous, beyond what 
they had ever perhaps witnessed in me before. The phrases 
" done well," and " doing well," I repeated with bitterness, accom- 
panied by an expression of scorn and indignation. " Am I doing 
well when excluded, by jealousy and malice, from that to which 
you know, and have often said, I am rightfully entitled ? Am I 
doing well when T see others elevated, by mere favoritism, to 
posts of distinction and profit, for which they are unqualified, 
while, because I will not sue and play the sycophant for them, 
the door to those posts is forever barred against me, who have 
spent near twenty years in preparing myself for them, and who, 
as yourselves know, and are ready to testify, am prepared for 
them? Nor do I care who knows that I thus speak of myself and 
others; because what I say is true — and neither detraction on 
one side, nor false praise on the other. Though I have, in a 
great measure, concealed my feelings, I have been long dissatisfied 
with Philadelphia, and determined to leave it as soon as my son's 
collegiate education should be finished. That time has arrived, 
and my determination, so long and so justly entertained, shall be 
speedily carried into effect. I have received and accepted an 
invitation to a chair in the medical department of Transylvania 
University in Lexington in the State of Kentucky. I have en- 
gaged to be at my post by the first of November next ; and you 
have not now to learn in what light my engagements are regarded 
by me. And, as far as my utmost exertions may avail, my en- 
gagement wjth the Trustees of Transylvania University shall be 
faithfully observed. On the subject of my removal from this 
place, to try a tilt with fortune in the West, I have maturely 
reflected, and deem the prospect of victory favorable to me. The 
result which presents itself (whether to my reason and judgment, 
or to my imagination and hope, the experiment alone can decide) 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 337 

appears to be auspicious. But whatever form or character it may 
assume, I am prepared to meet it, without a present or a future 
murmur. And, as the measure is exclusively my own, so, as far 
as possible, shall be the misfortune, should any arise from it. ' 

"But your family, sir," one of my friends began, and was 
about to make some remarks on that topic ; when I unceremo- 
niously interrupted him, by interposing: "I know, sir, what you 
are about to say, and shall render it needless, by assuring you 
that my family shall be strictly cared for; and that arrangements 
for the purpose are already made. I have never yet involved 
any one in my misfortunes or difficulties, and I shall not begin 
the work with my own family. Their interest and welfare are in 
my own keeping; where they shall be faithfully and securely 
k<'pt without giving trouble to friend or foe. And there they 
shall rest unmolested, while I have life to protect them. I trust, 
therefore, that on that point, my friends will neither disquiet 
themselves, nor deem it necessary to disquiet me. For my family, 
1 have: made a provision in the East, satisfactory to every one 
except, myself; and 1 am now resolved to endeavor to improve 
it, in a new and more eligible sphere of action in the West." 

Saving Bpoken to this effect, I entreated the gentlemen not to 
trouble themselves, by attempting to discuss the matter with me 
any further — somewhat sportively adding: "So brief is my time 
of preparation for nay removal from Philadelphia, and my journey 
to Lexington, that between this and the first of November I 
must be all action, and much as 1 am addicted to talking, shall 
have no leisure for the indulgence of myself in words.'' 

Nor did any one subsequently attempt to discuss the matter 
with me, except on one occasion, and I then rendered the discus- 
sion exceedingly brief. On calling to take leave of a family, 
whose physician 1 had been for many years, the gentleman, who 
possessed much more of sincerity and kindness than of judgment 
and knowledge of human nature, breathed a hope and semi- 
prayer, that I might be so far unsuccessful in Kentucky, as to be 
obliged to return to Philadelphia, where I would again meet such 
welcome and success as would prevent me from "even dreaming 
of ever afterwards leaving it." 

To this 1 first gravely and perhaps somewhat sternly replied: 
"Your wish and hope, sir, are, I am confident, expressed in kind- 



338 • AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

ness, but their fulfilment would exile me forever from Philadel- 
phia, to which I shall never return a disappointed man. But," 
changing my tone and manner, and addressing his wife and 
daughter, holding a hand of each in one of mine, I added, face- 
tiously, "you will never see me again, unless I am prepared to 
ask you to accompany me in a drive in my coach and four" — and, 
kissing their hands, I immediately took leave. 

By the arrival of the day appointed for the commencement of 
my journey, my arrangements were complete. But, before turn- 
ing my face toward the setting sun, I must take leave of my old 
and well-tried friend Dr. Cooper, whom I am about to leave be- 
hind me in Philadelphia ; and on whom I feci bound to bestow a 
few parting moments and words. 

In talents, attainments, and general character, Dr. Cooper was 
one of the most extraordinary men of the day. In literature and 
science (political science excepted), his views were deep, compre- 
hensive and sound. But, in politics, so thoroughly were his 
notions infected and perverted by the groundless and wild doc- 
trine of liberty and equality, that his benevolence and humanity 
alone prevented him from being a Jacobin. 

He was by birth and education an Englishman, an intimate ac- 
quaintance and personal friend of Dr. Priestley, and, in considera- 
tion of his anti-monarchical principles, was elected, during the 
period of the " Eeign of Terror," in Paris, and took his seat, as a 
member of the National Assembly of France. But his member- 
ship in that turbulent and tyrannical body was of short duration. 
Being of a temper in some degree fierce and fiery, and a spirit 
fearless, haughty, and incontrollable, he became engaged in a per- 
sonal contention with Eobespierre, during a sitting of the Assem- 
bly, in which the latter used, in relation to him, unbecoming and 
offensive language. As soon as the session was closed, Cooper 
determined on satisfaction for the insult, sought the Frenchman, 
met him in the street, pronounced him a scoundrel (un coquin), 
drew his sword, and bade him defend himself. Eobespierre de- 
clined the combat, but prepared for revenge on the daring Eng- 
lishman. His design was to have him secretly assassinated, or to 
denounce him in the next meeting of the Jacobin Club, where 
his influence was irresistible, and have him immediately con- 
ducted to the guillotine. Informed of this by a friend, who had 



CnARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 339 

in some way penetrated the intention of the French demagogue, 
and convinced that flight alone could save him, Cooper instantly 
left Paris, and had the good fortune to escape the meditated ven- 
geance. 

On his return to England, he found the public mind greatly 
agitated, and everything in a very perturbed condition, by the 
actual exist' -nee and outrages of mobs in various parts of the king- 
dom, and the suspicion and reports of plots, insurrections, and con- 
oerted rebellion. Nor was due all. He himself became mis- 
l"'i I i" be a leader among the malcontents, the dwelling of his 
friend Prie tlfly had been assailed by a mob, and all his furniture 
and fine library burnt; in COT oeof which, and the dread 

perhaps of further violenoe, the doctor himself was preparing to 
migrate, or had migrated to the United .Stat..--. 

Influenced by these and probably other considerations, Cooper 
determined to exile himself from his native country, whose in- 
habitants, and himself, as l 06 of them, he held to be deeply 
wronged and oppressed, by a corrupt and tyrannical government, 

and try his fortune in a foreign land. Under these impressions 

with regard to political control, and with "liberty and equality" 
as his battle motto, he selected the United States for his held of 
future' action, and Philadelphia, then our largest and in all re- 
spects onr chief city, for his place of residence. And from an 
improvidence as to means, which made a part of his nature 
was low ID funds. _ 

Philadelphia was then the Beat of the National Government. 

Congress was in session when Cooper arrived, and Washington, 
Hamilton, Jefferson, .lav, Malison, Ellsworth, King, and many 
other distinguished men, statesmen, and politicians were on the 
spot and in action. And the Goddess of Discord was already 
among them, and had divided them into the original parties of 
Federalist and Anti-Federalist — the former being the advocates of 
a more concentrated and powerful government, administered and 
directed by legislators and officers appointed for the purpose : and 
the latter of a government, with a basis as spacious as the popu- 
lated portion of the Union, of which every man, who wore a head 
and wagged a tongue, was in part (and that part far from being 
inconsiderable') a legislator and an executive agent. 

At the head of the Federal party was Hamilton — of the Anti- 



340 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

Federal, Jefferson — and their immediate aids, who consisted of 
the ablest and most influential statesmen and politicians in the 
country. Washington, too high, patriotic, and pure-minded, to 
be approached by party spirit, was, as his august title implied, 
President of the United States. 

In this condition of things, strengthened not a little by his own 
pecuniary condition, Cooper was obliged to look for a subsistence 
to some public employment connected with the profession of law, 
to which he had been bred; but which, as far as I remember, he 
had never yet practised. And that he might the more readily 
succeed in procuring some appointment, it was expedient that he 
should attach himself to one of the political parties. Nor was he 
long in making his choice. Nature and education appeared to 
have combined in fitting him for many things — but pre-eminently 
for three — to be a " liberty and equality" philosopher and projec- 
tor, a party politician, and a political agitator. Hence, he in- 
stinctively attached himself to Jefferson and the Outs. True, 
Jefferson was Secretary of State, and therefore, officially one of 
the Ins. But in principle, wishes, and resolution, he was an Out; 
because his object was to supersede Hamilton, oust Washington, 
or at least prevent his re-election to the office of chief magistrate, 
and be promoted to his place. And that promotion he expected 
from the Anti-Federal party. 

By several papers which he wrote, and for which he was pro- 
bably paid, Cooper was not long in convincing his party of his 
dexterity and strength in the use of his pen, and therefore of his 
power to aid them in their projects. And to the employment of 
it, chiefly, as there is reason to believe, he was indebted for his 
subsistence for several years. The State of Pennsylvania being 
then, as it is now, democratic in its government, he was at length 
appointed to a judgeship in it — but of what court, or with what 
salary, I do not remember — if, indeed, I was ever informed — 
for, at that period, my acquaintance with the judge was but slight. 
His tenure of the office, however, did not prove to be either "for 
life," or until terminated by promotion. On account of some act 
regarded as an official malversation, he was impeached, and either 
removed, or induced to resign — I have forgotten which. 

Through whatever channel, however, the loss may have reached 
him, it is certain that he no longer either held his judgeship or 



CHARLES CALDWELL, If. D. 341 

received his salary, and was again deprived of a competent and 

alar means of subsistence. But it is equally certain that the 
misfortune did not take from him a tittle of his reputation as a 
powerful, a learned, and a perfectly upright and honorable man. 
His standing in society, therefore, and his connection and inter- 
course with the first men and families in the country, were un- 
touched. 

Nor was it long until authentic evidence to this effect appeared 
in his election to the Professorship of Chemistry and Moral Philo- 
sophy in Dickinson College, in the town of Carlisle, and State of 
Pennsylvania. In that institution he remained, by far its ablest, 
and one of its most faithful and popular teachers, until the occur- 
rence of a serious and threatening rebellion, in the quelling of 
which he manifested, in no common degree, the courage and 
energy for which he was remarkable. The consequence of the 
outbreak was a temporary suspension of the exercises of the in- 
stitution, a slight change in its government and economy, and the 
resignation of some of its offioerB — and Cooper, for what reason 
1 know not, never returned to it. 

Alter this, he made Philadelphia bis home; and it was now that 
my close intimacy with him commenced. To aid him in his 
finances, which were unusually low, it was at this period that I 
employed him, as heretofore stated, as an auxiliary, in the com- 
position of original articles for the Pari Folio, and rendered him all 
other civilities and services in my power. Nor did he fail to feel 
them deeply, and cordially acknowledge and endeavor to requite 
them by bestowing encomiums on me with his tongue and his 
pi n, whenever and wherever a suitable occasion to do so presented 
itself. And when none spontaneously arose, he often created one. 
This 1 had subsequently not a few opportunities of learning, and 
beneficially realizing in Great Britain. When I subsequently 
made visits there, to many places where I considered myself un- 
known, I found that I was mistaken. The letters of Cooper had 
been there before mo, and prepared the way for my reception in 
a manner ami style far more favorable and flattering than I had 
reason to anticipate. 

Dr. Cooper (for he was now doctorated) knew that I had re- 
ceived private letters of invitation to migrate to the West: and 
he himself had some prospect of an invitation to South Carolina. 



342 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

We frequently conferred, therefore, on the practicability and ad- 
vantage of erecting schools of medicine in those quarters. And- 
we received, about the same time, he, his appointment to the pro- 
fessorship of chemistry in Columbia College, in South Carolina, 
which subsequently led to his elevation to the presidency of that 
institution ; and I, to the premiership of the medical department 
of Transylvania University. He did much toward the establish- 
ment of the school of medicine in Charleston ; and my success in 
relation to the Lexington school Will be stated hereafter. 

Dr. Cooper and myself left Philadelphia about the same time — 
he for Columbia, and I for Lexington. "We were the first persons 
that had the independence and enterprise to sever an official con- 
nection with the University of Pennsylvania, and issue from that 
medical emporium, for the express purpose of establishing schools 
of medicine in the other parts of the United States. And we were 
both successful. 

My distinguished friend and colleague, Dr. Cooper, I have not 
seen since I parted from him in Philadelphia, in the year 1819. 
But we corresponded regularly until within a short period of his 
death. He officiated for a time, with great popularity, as pro- 
fessor of chemistry in Columbia College, and then as president of 
the same institution. 

When he retired from the latter station, on account of some 
misunderstanding with the Board of Trustees, he was employed 
by the legislature to write a history (I think it was) of South 
Carolina. Whether he lived to finish that work I am not in- 
formed. My impression is, however, that he did not, but died 
while engaged in it, at the advanced age of fourscore and up- 
ward — leaving behind him a family, but no estate, notwithstand- 
ing the labors of his never-idle and protracted life. 

Not only was Cooper's mind uncommonly keen and penetrating, 
it was one of the most inquisitive minds I have ever witnessed. 
Hence, the field of knowledge it traversed was almost illimitable. 
It grasped at everything, especially at everything new and curious. 
It went in pursuit of the knowledge of phrenology sooner after I 
began the propagation of it, than that of any other very dis- 
tinguished man in the United States. But it did not pursue it 
to a very great extent. The doctor was a full believer in the 



CnARLES CALIiWELL, M. D. 343 

science, and understood its general principles, but never informed 
himself of it practically and in detail. 

He frequently and anxiously solicited me, by letter, to visit the 
College of Columbia and deliver a course of lectures on phreno- 
logy i" the pupils of it, and the inhabitants of the town; I should 
have been much pleased to do so, but was never able to command 
the time. 

Dr. Cooper was a man of low stature, but robust, well propor- 
tioned, and very compactly built. His temperament was san- 
guineo-nervous, bit head large, finely developed, and uncommonly 
round, his neck stout and thick, his ohi ions, and his re- 

ation free, full, and rigorous. Sis digestion was also sound 
and strung. 

From these characteristics, the physiologist and phrenologist 
will plainly perceive tli.it he was framed and endowed by nature 
for the attainmenWof Longevity, and the possession of a powerful, 
active, and enduring intellect. And the issue of his life proved 
the correctness of his personal indications. 

He experienced two attacks of palsy (or one of palsy and one 
of apoplexy); vet such was the vigor of his constitution, that he 

overed from both without any perceptible impairment of mind. 
Hence his last mental productions exhibited no marks of old age 
— or if they did, it was of the old intellect — the old 

age of I looper. 

Having spoken of Dr. Priestley as an acquaintance of mine in 
Philadelphia, and a friend of Dr. Cooper, before taking a final 
leave of the place, I shall offer a few remarks on that extraordi- 
nary man. And the term extraor ry is. in many respects, as 
applicable to him as to any other personage I have ever known. 

It is hardly less than extraordinary that a friendship so strong 
and fervent as theirs was. should have existed between him and 
Dr. Cooper, for it would be difficult to find two men more dis- 
similar to each other. The only mutual similarity that marked 
them was, that each of them possessed talents of an exalted order, 
and information of great variety and extent. But the character 
of. their intellects, their temperaments, and tempers, and their 
modes o[' using their information, were strikingly unlike. In 
their scrutinies and discussions of subjects, Cooper's intellect was 
the most keen, penetrating, and searching; Priestley's the most 



344 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

diffusive, expanded, and liberal. Priestley possessed the greatest 
amount of knowledge ; Cooper made the most powerful use of 
what he did possess. In discussion and debate, Priestley was 
calm, placid, and candid ; Cooper, vehement, fiery, and sometimes 
inclined to confuse, perplex, and entrap his antagonist. The 
spirit and manner of the latter resembled those of the advocate 
resolved, by any admissible means, to succeed in his cause; those 
of the former the spirit and manner of the judge, summing up 
the evidence and delivering his charge. 

Although Priestley made more discoveries in science than 
Cooper, yet had he a less original, strong, and philosophical 
mode of thinking. Hence he depended more on the works of 
others, and consulted books to a greater extent. He also experi- 
mented on a wider scale, and in a more promiscuous and indefi- 
nite manner, and, therefore, made some of his experiments by 
accident. I mean that he made discoveries ■other than those 
which he contemplated ; and was so fortunate as to make many 
when he contemplated none at all. He merely brought substances 
into contact, or within striking distance of each other, and ob- 
served and noted the effect, and thus discovered new and unex- 
pected facts and relations of which he afterward availed himself 
for useful purposes. 

Cooper, on the contrary, had little or nothing of hap-hazard 
in his actions. Whatever he did was designed for the attainment 
of some definite end. And if he failed in that, his failure was 
likely to be complete ; because to that alone he attended, usually 
regardless of everything else. Hence, in the course of his expe- 
riment, or series of experiments, he discovered and picked up 
nothing accidentally by the way. Nor had he the patience of 
Priestley to persevere in the repetition of barren experiments, or 
in the trial of new ones for the same purpose. In a word, he was 
a neck-or-nothing man, and, therefore, never content with small 
results — not remembering that great things are always and neces- 
sarily composed of small ones, and that the only certain road to 
true and lasting achievement and fame is from the small to the 
great. 

But the most striking difference between Priestley and Cooper 
was in their temperaments and tempers, to which a mere refe- 
rence has been already made. The organization of the former 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 345 

was much less terse than that of the latter ; and his temperament 
was ncrvo-sanguineous, with a moderate but evident mixture of 
the phlegmatic. And his organ of benevolence was strongly 
developed. To that development and mixture were attributable 
the mildness and placidity of his temper, which was rarely if ever 
very seriously ruffled. To that again were to be attributed the 
calmness and courtesy of his manner and language in all his con- 
troversial engagements (and they were numerous) in which, 
whether they were conducted viva voce or through the press, he 
never employed an expression that was really exceptionable, and 
much less offensive, in either word or sentiment. Ilence, though 
nearly all his controversies were on matters of religion, he never 
engendered in fair and liberal minded antagonists resentment or 
dislike. With whatever zeal and earnestness, and with whatever 
determination to crush him, they might battle with the theologian, 
they never failed to feel kindly, and think in the highest de- 
gree respectfully Inward the man. Nor could they even deny 
that his deportment had in it much of the pure philanthropist 
and the Christian. If any person entertained toward him a single 
element, of I lie odium theologium, it was the bigot and the fanatic. 
And they, in their controversies, are but rabid animals, with but }<,„ 
tWO lees instead of four. 

Priestley's fund of knowledge was all but boundless; and, in 
the communication and diffusion of it, he was bounteous to pro- 
lusion. Though, in neither public nor private discourse did he 
manifest a trait of what is called eloquence, or elegance of style 
or manner; yet was he one of the most instructive and interest- 
ing preachers and eolloquists I have ever known. So unskilled 
or careless was he in orthoepy, that he even pronounced very 
incorrectly not a few of the most common words in the English 
language — and some of them he pronounced so illiterately, not to 
say BO vulgarly, as to amount to a serious blemish on his scholar- 
ship. Thus, for example, instead of " horse," and " house," and 
" here," he gave you one and ouse and ere ; and instead of " oak," 
and "order," and -car," you had from him ho<ik, harder, and hear. 
And these are English vulgarities. 

But so rich was the doctor in valuable colloquial matter, and 
so bounteously and dexterously did he impart it, that 1 never 
pawnnii half an hour in conversation with him that did not add 



346 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

something to my stock of useful knowledge — some interesting 
fact. 

Added to his other amiable and attractive attributes, Dr. 
Priestley was one of the most single-minded and modest men I 
have ever known. For the vast store of knowledge he possessed, 
he took to himself no credit, except on the score of labor and in- 
dustry. He earnestly, and I am confident sincerely, assured me 
that not a few of his college-mates were equal, and some of them 
superior to him, in the facility with which they acquired scholar- 
ship and knowledge. Between him and them, therefore, when 
they took their degrees, there was little or no difference in point 
of attainment. " But," said he, " when we quitted college, they 
quitted study, and I stuck to it ; and most of them were soon out 
of sight and hearing behind me; and I neither saw nor heard 
any more of them. And that is the only reason why they are 
not my equals or superiors in knowledge." 

As Dr. Priestley advanced in age, he lost none of the sprightli- 
ness, vivacity, or clearness of his mind. But, that he lost some 
of its strength, I learned from the following fact. In earnest con- 
versation or discussion, he could not, without fatigue, persevere 
so long as he had been previously able to do. He was, therefore, 
obliged to pause frequently and at shorter intervals, to recruit his 
expended strength — and would then proceed. So strikingly true 
and remarkable was this, that, at table, after dinner, when wine 
and earnest conversation were going round, I have seen him 
scores of times, after a few sprightly and energetic remarks, 
dropping into a momentary slumber, and then awaking and re- 
suming conversation with his usual spirit. And the same was 
the case with Mr. Jefferson at the time of my last visit to him, 
when he had attained his eighty-second or third year. His mind 
was as clear and sprightly as it had been twenty years pre- 
viously ; but its strength was less, and therefore more easily ex- 
hausted. Hence, he was compelled, in conversation, to pause 
more frequently to allow it to recruit. And, I am inclined to 
believe, that such is the condition of the mind of all persons far 
advanced in years ; provided they have not, through indolence 
and disease, allowed their faculties to relax and take rust. Their 
minds retain their clearness and sprightliness, but decline in 
strength and endurance. If I am not misinformed, J. Q. Adams 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 347 

gave evidence to the same effect. The last remarks he made in 
'ingress were as perspicuous, and as much to the point, as any 
he bad ever previously offered; but they were comparatively few 
and brief. 

Notwithstanding the charges of damning theological heresies, 
that were piled mountain-high against Dr. P y, 1 witnee 

in him, on a certain occasion, manifestations of mind and feeling, 
which, in my own opinion, and in that of others whose Christian 
Orthodoxy was never questioned, utterly nullified and scaf 
them to the wind. I attended liim, in consultation with Dr. 
Rush, in a severe and very threatening fit of sickness, when I 
greatly feared, and lie himself confidently believed, that he was 
on his death-bed. And never did I behold any individual, in a 
like ease, more calm and submissive than he was, under pn 
Buffering, or more Arm and confiding, peacefully resigned and 
cheerfully hopeful in relation to his condition in a future state. 

But to waive the further consideration of these minor points, 
and proceed in the main and more immediate tenor of my story. 

For some time past, the current of my thoughts had been 
chiefly turned to my migration to the great "West. The point of 
time on which I had definitively fixed for the commencement of 
that enterprise, by far the most important that marks my long 
and apparently restless career, was the sixth of October, 18191 
And, when the earnestly contemplated moment arrived, not a 
tittle was wanting, either material or mental, in my preparation 
for my journey. And everything was in a state of perfect 
maturity. 

1 have pronounced my career apparently restless ; and it was 
nothing more. It was not really restless. That quality, had it 
existed, would have fastened on me the charge of fickleness. 
And oi' that characteristic I have not, in the composition of my 
nature, a angle element. "Fickleness" is wanton and uncalcu- 
lating changeability, a pronenesa to change without reflection, 
and therefore without a sufficient cause, and of course without 
a reasonable prospect of an amendment of condition. But for a 
change of that description I had no relish, and hence posses 
toward it no shadow of disposition. 

Though my course in life has been marked by several changes 
from place to place, the tenor of my pursuits has been always 



348 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

the same. And the changes have been the result of serious 
deliberation, and made under a reasonable belief that my condition 
would be improved by them, in consequence of an enlargement or 
elevation of my field of action, or of both united. I felt my 
energies cramped and restrained, for want of room, and expe- 
rienced a conviction — the issue of forecast and deliberate exami- 
nation — that a wider scope for exertion would elevate my views, 
invigorate my resolution, and augment my usefulness. Nor did 
the result ever fail to show that my anticipation was correct. 
And this was very signally true of the momentous change I am 
at present considering.' 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 349 



CHAPTER XII. 

Leave Philadelphia — State of travelling — Long drought — Reach Lexington — 

Points of tho compass — Medical school— Professors — Dr. D y — An address to 

the people Lddresa to the Legislature — My introductory — Valedictory — Reply 
to a critique on my " Life of Greene" — End "f session — Departure for Euro] 
Liverpool — English women — Btage-ooach anecdote' — Mrs. Solomon — Rosooe — 

Bostook — Sir Astloy Cooper — John Hunter — First interview with Ahcrnethy — 
Mr. Lawrence — Mrs. Somerville — Ladies' conversation party — Chelsea Hospital 
— London — Bpeakers in Parliament — Thames tunnel — Coronation of George the 
Fourth — Death of Queen Caroline. 

( >n the morning of the <ith of October, 1819, I took leave of 
Philadelphia, if not with a "light heart" at least with a resolute 
one— fl stranger to previous failure and disappointment, fearless of 
any such events in the future, and utterly regardless of difficulty 
and danger. My object was to be the Bret introducer of true 
medical soience into the Mississippi Valley, and thus to commence 
the independence, in that respeot, of the West and South on the 
medical institutions of the Easl and North. And in thirty years 
the scheme is beginning to take palpable effect. Such independ- 
ence is now talked of and seriously contemplated. And the 
settled and spreading intention in the publio mind, is the truth- 
telling harbinger of the "consummation so devoutly to be wished." 
Having succeeded, therefore, in the enterprise, where certain 
predeoeSSOrs had failed, 1 have deemed it instructive and useful 
to make a clear disclosure of my means of success. Nor can I 
doubt that the enlightened and candid reader will concur with 
me in opinion. 

Of my journey to the "West. 1 shall only say that it was rough, 
tedious, and somewhat dangerous, the danger arising in part 
from the breaking down or overturning of carriages on roads 
almost impassable, and in part from robbers who ambushed the 
way. But from neither of the two was it my misfortune to suffer. 
Two entire weeks of constant and hard travelling were then 
necessary for the performance of a journey which can now be 



350 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

performed in less than five entire days. And, at no distant 
period, it will be performed, at farthest, in half the time. Such i8 
the issue of meeting and encountering difficulties with suitable 
means and with stern resolution and perseverance of purpose. 
And it is to furnish proof of this salutary and momentous 
truth, that I have allowed myself to introduce into my narrative 
aught that can be construed into intentional self-applause. Nor 
have I, after all that can be alleged on the subject, introduced 
into it a single fact, sentiment, or allegation beyond the plain and 
universally admitted truism, that whatever of worth or useful- 
ness has been performed by me, has been the product of the 
fitnesses for such performance of the corporeal, intellectual, and 
moral attributes which I possess and have exercised, as natural 
causes necessarily productive of natural effects, and without the 
exercise of which causes, the effects corresponding to them would 
never have occurred. 

The character of the season, in which I migrated to the West, 
is worthy of notice. It was marked by the most obstinate and 
alarming drought that the oldest inhabitants of the region where 
it prevailed remembered to have witnessed. And in the Western 
States, its prevalence was extensive ; the river Ohio was so 
exhausted of its waters as to be, in many places, unnavigable for 
weeks by the lightest flat-bottomed boats. Instead of presenting 
the spectacle of a bold, free-flowing river, it consisted in many 
sections of no inconsiderable length, of a series of ponds connected 
by shallow and slow-moving streams. I attempted to descend it 
from Wheeling in a small keelboat, constructed and fitted for the 
purpose by the most experienced and skilful mechanics and river 
navigators ; but, before the completion of ten miles of my voyage, 
the boat ran aground on a broad and apparently impassable sand- 
bar ; and I instantly abandoned her, provided myself with horses, 
and performed what yet remained of my journey (a distance of 
more than two hundred miles) by land. 

In my passage through the State of Ohio, from Wheeling to 
Maysville, I soon had occasion to observe that it was not the 
river alone which was changed in its appearance and character 
by the drought; the entire face of the country was altered. 
Every rivulet was dried up ; larger streams were in so nearly the 
same condition that not merely inconvenience but a serious pri- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M.D. 351 

ration, not far remote from actual suffering, was experienced by 

travellers and their horses, fur want of water. Xor was this all. 

So dead and arid were the long grass and abundant herbage, 

that, in numerous places, they were in a wide, fierce, and still 

■preading conflagration, in consequence of fire having been set to 

them either accidentally or by design. The period of time to 

which I am njliiriing was in October, during that peculiar dusky 

of weather usually denominated "Indian Summer.'' And 

the immense volumes of smoke issuing from the conflagrated 

, herbage, and other forms of dead parched vegetable matter, 

uniting with the a existing haze, rendered the atmosphere 

more Bombre, and the son peering through it more rayless, blood- 

oolored, and nn i Humiliating, than 1 have ever observed hi in to be, 

either before or Bince, on such an occasion. 

I ndi c the influence of this scarcely respirable state of the 
atmosphere, augmi ated not a little by tin- oheerl t of the 

son, and tin' almoBl waterless condition of the country, did I tra- 
vel through the entire State of < >hio, and a considerable portion 
of tin' Stat.' nf Kentucky. Tims Bignally uninviting, ma to say 
repulsive ami discouraging, was my reception by the two import- 
elements of air ami water, on my first entrance into what 
had nol ye1 oeased to be denominated the "Wilds of the West." 
But >'n me the omen, which superstition might have regarded 
as sinisti'i- in its boding, had of course no shadow "f mental 
effect. It neither damped my spirits, dulled my anticipation, 
m>i' darkened my hope. 1 looked with confidence through the 
drearj ami disheartening condition oi' physical things immediately 
around me, t>> occurrence! 1 them morally and intellect- 

ually propitious and encouraging. Xor was it long until my 
prevoyance was. for a tun.', very pleasantly realized. 

Tli.- Brat night 1 passed in Kentucky, 1 met at the hotel 
where 1 Lodged, a young lady who, though neither beautiful in 
countenance, eleganl in person, nor graceful in manners, had not- 
withstanding something in her general appearance which com- 
inainhd attention, excited regard, and conciliated good will. 
"When the gentlemen and ladies, who constituted the guests of 
the establishment (called an inn), and who were seated in the 
same apartment, were summoned to supper, I directed my eye 
toward her, and perceived that she was alone and unprotected. 



352 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

I therefore advanced to her with a movement and a bow of 
courtesy, offered her my arm, which she promptly accepted, in a 
lady -like manner, and I thus conducted her to the meal that was 
in waiting. 

By this casual meeting, and the intercourse held by means of 
it, which amounted to a sort of half-adventure, I formed with the 
lady, who, in addition to her uncommon amount of information, 
good sense, and good breeding, was an accomplished colloquist, 
an intimate and pleasant acquaintance, which continued to be 
cherished, talked of and revivified, as often as we subsequently 
met, until the close of her life ; an event which did not occur 
until the lapse of more than twenty years. And I have reason 
to know that she often spoke of me in such terms as induced 
other persons to seek an acquaintance with me. 

On the day following, I reached Lexington, where I was met 
and received with the cordiality and warmth of a Southern wel- 
come, by the Trustees of Transylvania University, and all the 
other leading gentlemen of the place, who were assembled at the 
hotel, in which apartments for me had been taken. 

On this occasion, there occurred to me an incident, which I 
deem worthy of notice ; not because it was new and unique in 
itself, but because, as far as I am informed, it was unique in the 
lastingness of its impression on me. 

My arrival in Lexington took place a little before sunset, and 
the sun was shining as vividly and brightly as the hour of the 
day and the smoky condition of the atmosphere permitted. When 
I first entered the city, my perception of the bearing of the four 
cardinal points of the compass, east, west, north, and south, 
was correct and clear. But, while I was looking in a different 
direction, the stage in which I was seated turned a corner, to 
reach the post-office and deliver the mail, and deranged by the 
movement my perception (I ought perhaps to say feeling of those 
points). And though I resided in Lexington eighteen years, that 
feeling never became rectified. My perception and knowledge 
of the points of the compass were by time and observation ren- 
dered correct. I knew in what direction they severally la} r . But 
in relation to them my feeling (perhaps I might call it my instinct) 
continued wrong. I always felt as if the east lay in the direction 



CnAKLES CALDWELL, M. D. 353 

of the north, the west in the direction of the south, the north in 
the west, and the south in the east. 

I tried, moreover, many fair experiments to correct the illusion 
which so obstinately adhered to me. I have gone a short distance 
into the country, and my sensations became correct. I have re- 
turns!, under a determination to keep them so, accompanied by 
an effort to that effect. And I always succeeded in my effort 
until I had reached the boundary line of the city. Bat noaoonei 
had I entered the city and looked on the courses of the str 
than my illusion recurred, and my feeling as to the points of the 
compass was again perverted. 

1 am now in Lexington, which is destined to be the immediate 
('mid of my future action. That action > s , in 'ta character and 
object, widely different from any in which I have been heretofore 
Iged, ,N,,r are its character and object the only points in 
which it is new to me. It also devolves on me a new responsi- 
bility, much deeper and weightier than any I have hitherto en- 
countered. It is much more arduous in its nature, and, in a far 
higher degree, more momentous in its effects. It is to be cer- 
tainly for many years, perhaps to the termination of my lite, an 
unremitting war with diffionltii le of them the product of 

nature herself, and others the fruit of the opposition of man. 

The prize, moreover, for which I am to contend, ia va.-t and 
enduring. It is my own reputation and standing as a man, a 
physician, and a generally supposed possessor of some share of 

literature and seienee, and the promotion of the health and wel- 
fare, on a large scale, especially in the great community of the 
West and South, of my contemporaries and posterity. 

For the accomplishment of this momentous design, I have vast 
and multifarious labors and duties to perforin. Of these, my first 
and one of the most difficult and important is, to clear and pre- 
pare the virgin, moral, and intellectual soil of the great West and 
South for the Beads of true medical science and literature. I say' 
the " virgin" toil , for, as yet, that soil had never undergone the 
slightest preparation for such a purpose. Much less had a grain 
of the seed been yet planted in it and watered. I was the first 
and genuine pioneer in the enterprise to that effect. In the year 
lSli', I found the mental soil of the West and South as perfect a 
stranger to real medical philosophy, as Boone and Kenton found 
' 28 



354 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF • 

their physical soil a stranger to wheat and barley, on their first 
arrival in the unweeded wilderness. Of mere practical medicine, 
respectable in its order, and useful in its effect, certain portions 
of the Mississippi Valley were not, at that date, entirely destitute. 
But, in relation to philosophical medicine, the whole region was 
a barren waste. 

Such was the condition of things, in the western country, and 
such, some of my thoughts and reflections in relation to it, on 
my first arrival. The almost unlimited magnitude of my task 
to be performed being thus referred to, a brief representation of 
my means for the performance of it, will not, I flatter myself, be 
deemed out of place. 

On my arrival in Lexington, I had found in waiting for me 
thirty-seven pupils, but nothing that could be regarded as means 
for the instruction of them ; no suitable lecture-room, no library, 
no chemical apparatus of any value, and not the shadow of a 
cabinet, of any description. And the spirits of the inhabitants 
of the place, especially after the late occurrence of a devastating 
fire, were at an ebb corresponding to that of the means of medical 
teaching. Nor is all that clouded my prospect of success yet 
told. I had under my direction one of the most miserable 
Faculties of medicine, or rather the materials of which to form 
such Faculty, that the Caucasian portion of the human family can 
well furnish, or the human mind easily imagine. It consisted of five 
professors (I myself being one of them), among whom was divided 
the administration of seven different branches of the profession. 
And of the five, three were (as related to the duties to be dis- 
charged by them) but little else than medical ciphers. But 
fortunately this nullity was not altogether the result of mental 
deficiency. Ilad it been so, I need not add that the case would 
have been remediless. It arose more, perhaps, from an entire 
want of the proper kind and degree of mental cultivation and 
training. One of them, in particular, was a man of a very re- 
spectable intellect, had received somewhat of a classical education, 
had been regularly, and, as some thought, thoroughly bred to 
medicine, and, as a colloquist, was fertile and uncommonly elo- 
quent. But his nerves seemed made of aspen leaves, interwoven 
with the leaves of the mimosa sensitiva, that trembled and shrank 
from the slightest touch of responsibility ; even from the respon- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 355 

sibility of uttering and maintaining a medical doctrine; no matter 
whether it wan derived from an external source, or from the in- 
ternal working of his own fancy. Of the other two, one had been 
iiK'i, to some extent, educated; but he knew more of almost any- 
thing else than he did of the subject he was appointed to teach. 
The other possessed an intellect not much, if in any measure, 
below the middle standard; but it wa9 miserably letterless and 
untrained. The professor of it could do nothing more than con- 
verse fluently but very coarsely on such matters as he superfi- 
cially knew, and <ui nothing was his knowledge more than super- 
ficial. To real study and investigation he was a stranger. 

The fourth professor, though perhaps the most meagrely en- 
dowed of the whole by nature, w.-is the only one that was qualified 
and resolutely determined to work. Yet was he firm in the belief 
and free in his expression of if. that the school was destined to 
have very limited classes. Eis avowal of this opinion I somewhat 
positively discouraged; requesting him in a tone not altogether, 

however, free t'r < nil jest and playfulness, either to dismiss his pro- 
phetic spirit or bridle its tongue; for that I was determined to 
defeat and nullify bis predictions; and that 1 was neither accus- 
tomed to meet, nor well prepared to brook disappointment. I 
then added, more seriously and significantly: " Our true policy 
is, either never to speak on the subject of our success, or to 
pronounce it certain — for a man under the influence of doubt 
and apprehension does not nnfrequently more mischief by his 
words than he can remove by his actions." To this 1 subjoined, 
in a voice and manner neither misunderstood nor unfelt by him: 
" When hope is likely to fail me, in a favorite project, I substitute, 
in its stead, resolution, energy, and perseverance, as I am deter- 
mined to do in the present case. And he who selects them as 
his hantuf motto, and battles under it like a man, is never van- 
mtished, whether he fail or succeed. For their import is the same 
with that <>[' the motto to 'do or die," which I have chosen as 
mine in the enterprise before me. As respects the formation 
of a distinguished school in this place, the term failure is ex- 
punged from my vocabulary. And so let it be from the vocabu- 
larv of the whole Faculty, ami. whatever may be our prospect 
now, our success hereafter is free from doubt. With such 
auspiees, therefore, let us commence action, under the further 



356 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

guardianship of our Kevolutionary motto: United ice stand, divided 
we fall; and in three years hence all will be well." 

Having cheered my almost desponding colleague with remarks 
to this effect, expressed in a style of animation and firmness, I 
left him in much better spirits than I had found him ; and, on the 
third day afterward, the whole Faculty were at their posts, in such 
of the University apartments as were most suitable, he charged 
with the administration of the two branches of Anatomy and 
Surgery, and I with those of the Institutes of Medicine, and 
Materia Medica, and each of the other members with the adminis- 
tration of a single branch. More correctly, however, I must ob- 
serve that the Professor of Anatomy and Surgery discharged the 
duties of his appointment in a small private amphitheatre of his 
own. 

Of this gentleman, my fourth colleague (Professor Dudley), the 
condition, though different, was by no means promising. In 
scholarship and literary knowledge he was very deficient. And, 
though he had studied his profession, I am willing to believe 
carefully, for several years, both at home and abroad, and prac- 
tised it for a considerable time, yet he had never in anyway as yet 
distinguished himself. lie had, therefore, no reputation. And as 
he possessed none of the ardor or enthusiasm of a man of genius, 
his talents were believed to be of a moderate order. But he pos- 
sessed industry, resolution, and perseverance, and they constituted 
ground of hope and expectation. And that ground proved solid 
and productive in direct contradiction of general belief. Hence, 
when I first ventured to assert that he would become an able 
professor and teacher (and I was the first man who did so), I was 
suspected of irony, a suspicion which I promptly repelled. But 
Professor Dudley is a self-made man. Nor do I design the ex- 
pression to be a symbol of discredit, but directly the reverse. 

I mean that Professor Dudley took his fate and fortune into 
his own keeping, and, by his industry and perseverance, made 
himself what he is, an eminent surgeon. Nor do I know of any 
man living of whom that achievement is more strictly true. 

Having been somewhat successful in dispelling the doubts and 
fears of the most hopeful of my colleagues, respecting the esta- 
blishment and elevation to distinction and usefulness of a medical 
school in the West and South, I was anxious to exercise a simi- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 357 

lar influence and to produce a similar effect on the inhabitants of 
Lexington, and as far as practicable on those of Kentucky and the 
adjoining States. And this important object I endeavored to 
effect in three several ways: by speaking cheerfully and confi- 
dently of success in the enterprise as often as I conversed on it, 
and addressing Letters bearing on it to men of influence, in dif- 
ferent parts of the western country; but more especially by my 
inaugural Address, to which I have not until now alluded, and 
respecting which I shall oiler a few remarks. 

My design to deliver the address, with the time when and the 
pl.-ic- where, the delivery was to take place, wore so announced in 
the public prints as to make an impression and call together a 
verv large and crowded audience, The subject of the address 
moreover was no! only significant, but interesting and important 
to the enterprise before me. And on the mere style and manner 
of it I bad bestowed considerable attention ; but more on its matter 
and argument. Nor did the Reverend Horace Holley, D. 1'., the 
President of Transylvania University, who was fond of pageantry 
and show, fail to render the entire ceremony of my inauguration 
as imposing as possible. Among other expedients to that effect, 
he and myself addressed each other in Latin, or rather he ad- 
dressed me. and 1 replied to him in that sonorous, highly polished, 
and magnificent tongue, an expedient not without a salutary 
effect. Our ceremonious by-play, however, in Latin, was hut the 
prelude to my inaugural address in English, which followed it. 

The BUbjeCt of the address was the facility, certainty, and 
general advantages of establishing a school of medicine in the 
West and South, and the honor and manifold benefits Lexington 
would derive from being the seat of it. 

The introductory ceremony, consisting chiefly of prayer and 
music, occupied about half an hour: and the delivery of my 
address about an hour and a half. The occasion I regarded as 
the grand moral and most eventful climacteric of my life, pecu- 
liarly calculated to promote or impede the tenor of its BUCCess. 
I therefore spoke with great earnestness and under deep feeling. 
And my effort (for I speak of the issue precisely as it eventuated) 
was eminently successful. Doubts, fears, and fancied difficulties 
disappeared under it like mist under sunshine. Before I had 
spoken tea minutes, I was made fully sensible of the favorable 



358 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

impression I was producing. Immediately in my front sat a 
group of my warmest, most intelligent, and most sincerely in- 
terested friends; and in their aspect I read distinctly the fate of 
my address. And I read it, if possible, more distinctly and sig- 
nificantly, in the aspect and deportment of two aged and respect- 
able, but neither scientific nor literary physicians. When I 
commenced the delivery of it, they were seated some distance 
from me, in different parts of the house. And they both rose, 
at nearly the same moment, and began gradually to approach me, 
still halting after each short and silent forward movement, and 
intently listening, as if resolute not to lose a syllable from my lips. 
And this progression they continued until one of them came so 
near to me that I could have laid my hand on his shoulder. 

The peroration of my address, which was brief and pithy, I 
had committed to memory. When I had reached it, therefore, 
dropping my manuscript (which, though hitherto held in my 
hand, had been recited rather than read), I threw into my delivery 
all the depth and force of voice, manner, and general expression 
I could command, and concluded amidst marks of emotion in the 
audience, and a burst of applause from them, such as I had rarely 
if ever seen and heard surpassed. And from that moment all 
desponding and doubt about the success of my enterprise were 
either dismissed or silenced. As far as I was informed, the word 
failure was never afterward associated with the name or the 
thoughts of the medical school. The moral pendulum passed, 
for a time, far over the line of gravity ; and expectation became 
too high, and hope even too ardent and dazzling. But subse- 
quent time and reflection did their work ; and things assumed 
their appropriate place and condition. 

A copy of my address was immediately asked for by the Board 
of Trustees, and a suitable edition of it published and widely 
circulated. Nor did the editors of newspapers withhold tbeir 
services in the promotion of its usefulness and eclat. To this, 
as far as I was informed, there was in the West but one excep- 
tion ; and that was in Cincinnati. I was told, but never saw the 
article, that the writer of a paragraph or two, in a paper of that 
place, cavilled at my declaration (which the address contained and 
explicitly expressed), that none but western and southern practi- 
tioners of medicine, versed by experience in the knowledge of 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 359 

them, either were or could be competent to the treatment of west- 
ern and southern diseases, and thut, therefore, none but professors 
practically trained in the Wc-t and South could competently 
lecture on such treatment, Ami as far as I am informed, this 
was the first time that that sentiment was publicly avowed. It 
was characterized, therefore by both novelty and independence. 
It was purely practical, and presented to medical pupils, their 
parents and guardians, the important truth that those who pur- 
posed to practise medicine among the inhabitants of the Weal and 
South, ought, as soon as it could be done, to receive their educa- 
tion in schools of the West and South, administered by professors 
skilled in the diseases of those regions. 

Calculated as the doctrine was, therefore, to produce a great 
change, not to say revolution, in medical education, unfriendly 
to the monopoly and profits of eastern schools, or rather of the 
professors in them, it was not supposable that it would be received 

wiili approval in the Atlantic States. Accordingly, it was not 
alone by the Cincinnati paper that it was cavilled at and censured. 
It was also attacked and opposed by several eastern papers, espe- 
cially in Philadelphia; and if my memory mislead me not, like- 
wise in New York. Nor has the controversy yet entirely ceased 
— though the spirit and tone of it are enfeebled. Time, observa- 
tion, and experience have awarded the victory. By all physicians 
competent to pass on the subject an enlightened and disinterested 
judgment, the sentiment which I proclaimed thirty years ago in 
my inaugural address, is now acknowledged to be true. Those 
physicians alone, who are practically versed in the diseases of the 

West and South, arc qualified either to treat them skilfully and 
successfully themselves, or to teach pupils so to treat them. Nor 
did 1 speedy, iu my address, a single benefit, either physical, 
moral, or intellectual, that the establishment of a medical school 
in Lexington promised in my opinion to confer on the city, which 
it did not confer. 

Dhdei this head of my subject, I shall only add, that when I 
now throw my eye over the pages of my inaugural address, though 
I find the style, teuor, and spirit of it, as a composition, to be of 
a respectable Older, and believe its argument to be sound and 
irrefutable, yet am 1 surprised and even astonished at the effect 
it produced on the audience that listened to it. 

The business of the school now went on, without any material 



360 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

dissatisfaction or complaint among the pupils (except what arose 
from their want of books, which I supplied, as far as practicable, 
from my own library), until the month of January. The legis- 
lature of Kentucky being then in session, in Frankfort, to that 
place I repaired, to solicit funds from the State, for the procure- 
ment of a library, a suit of chemical apparatus, and other means 
of medical instruction. 

Being favorably and flatteringly received, I was complimented 
by an audience of the whole legislative body, to a public address) 
delivered by invitation in the Legislative Hall. I asked for ten 
thousand dollars, assuring the legislature that a smaller sum would 
be insufficient for my purpose. And I employed, in my address, 
every motive I could command or devise, whether of argument, 
persuasion, or State praise, to enlist in favor of my project their 
judgment as men, their interest as philanthropists, and their pride 
as State patriots, and natives, or long residents of Kentucky, the 
eldest and then the wealthiest of the sisterhood of western States; 
and so far succeeded as to obtain a donation of five thousand 
dollars. Owing, moreover, to some dissatisfaction toward the 
trustees of Transylvania University, entertained by the legisla- 
ture, the donation was made in my own name, and placed under 
my own control, not under that of the Board of Trustees. This 
public and recorded act touched very naturally the pride, and 
excited, for a time, the dissatisfaction of the Board. But when 
they learned, from my address (which was also published), that 
the funds had been solicited by me, not in my own name, but 
expressly in theirs, they became conciliated toward me, and limited 
their dissatisfaction to the legislature alone. 

On giving it to be definitively understood that the money re- 
ceived from the State of Kentucky was greatly insufficieut in 
amount to accomplish the purpose to which it was to be applied, 
I was invited to address the people of Lexington on the same 
subject, and urge them to augment it from the resources of the 
city. This task I also performed with all the energy and persua- 
sives I could command, and received a loan of six thousand dol- 
lars for five years, without interest, payment at the end of that 
term being secured by a lien on the articles procured by it. This 
compact, however, I did not doubt, at the time it was negotiated, 
to be tantamount to a donation, which it ultimately became. 



CHARLES CALIAVELT,, M. D. 3G1 

From wliat has been already said, charged as I was with the 
duties of two professorships, and lecturing in each of them four 
or five times a week, it may be easily perceived that I passed, 
Boeially and officially, at least a busy winter. But when I add 
that, owing to the etiquette which then obtained in Lexington, it 
was deemed exceptionable for a man to deny himself, or in any 
way evade being Been by visitors, or to decline invitations, whether 

the ai ptance of them was convenient or not, I was obliged to 

receive every one who chose to call on me, and to tolerate ana 
entertain him as long as he chose to stay, and to dine with every 
gentlemen, and mingle in the evening party of every lady who 
civilly invited me; and that, being elected the first Dean of the 
Faculty, I was further obliged to frame, and write out, with my 
own hand, every advertisement, resolution, order, law, and ether 
document pertaining to the organization and government of the 
school— when I stale that bo massy, multifarious, and self-con- 
Bicting were my engagements, it will be perceived thai I pass 1 
a winter, whose occupation was most annoying, and oppressively 
toilsome. But, by the aid of a sound and clastic constitution, 
strict temperance, and unremitting assiduity, my health was un- 
injured, and my tiTne sufficient lor the discharge of my duties. 
Our session continued until the first of Much, when I (dosed it 
by a valedictory address, as I had opened it by an introductory 
one, iii behalf of the Faculty — no member save mys< If having 
touched on any but didactic matter. 

My valedictory, like my introductory, having been favorably 
received, was published in a very well conducted monthly perio- 
dical issued at the time, from the Lexington press, and experi- 
enced, in common with the former publication, a petulant but 
feeble attack in a Cincinnati paper. 

About this time I was induced to reply, through the same 
Lexington periodical, with no little indignation and severity, to 
a foul and calumnious attack on my Afemoira of General Urtme, 
published in the Boston North American Review, As the article 
in the AVriVie was characterized by nothing of the substance or 
spirit of fair criticism, but descended to personality and gross 
misrepresentation, 1 determined to call its author to a personal 
ace, .nut for it, and, with that view, endeavored to have his name 
'.-cd to me. But I failed iu my effort for many years. 



362 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

And when I at length made the discovery, I found him, to my 
surprise, to be a member of a large and distinguished family 
connection, from which I had subsequently received such a pro- 
tracted train of marked civilities, as completely extinguished 
(because it was, as I was assured, designed to extinguish) my 
resentment on account of the wrong I had sustained. Nor was 
it possible for me then to move in the matter, without involving 
the distress of a number of ladies in whose delightful society I 
had occasionally mingled for years, a constant recipient of their 
polished courtesy and refined hospitality. Hence, allowing sub- 
sequent kindness to atone for previous misconduct, I thought no 
more of the wrong I had experienced. 

The entire summer vacation of 1820, I devoted assiduously to 
two objects, the augmentation, by individual contribution, of my 
funds for the purchase of means of medical instruction, and the 
production of a conviction in the minds of the people of the West 
and South, especially of the physicians, of the great importance 
of the establishment, in that region, of a medical school. 

This whole scheme, which I deemed essential to the thorough 
accomplishment of my enterprise, I took into my own keeping, 
and under my own care. For its effectuation I visited New 
Orleans, passed round by sea to Philadelphia, visited a portion 
of Virginia, and made the tour of the State of Kentucky. And 
on every material point, my success transcended, in no small 
degree, my utmost anticipation. Not only did I to some extent 
augment my funds, and convince the people of the great usefulness 
of a medical school in the Mississippi Valley; I secured their 
good wdl and patronage, and directed them toward the school I 
was myself erecting. And the result was that our second class 
considerably more than doubled our first in the number of its 
members. 

During the second session of the school, though my colleagues 
were less crude and undisciplined than they had been during the 
first; yet were my own duties equally multifarious and toilsome 
during both. Still, however, in the midst of them, and under 
their pressure and annoyance, did my health remain sound, my 
mind calm and unembarrassed, my resolution unshaken, and my 
spirits cheerful and elastic. And the chief reason was, my firm 
determination that such should be the case; and I possessed the 



CHARLES CALI/WELL, M. D. 363 

power of self-command, without which no man can fully do his 
duty to either himself or others. And that my self-discipline 
and government were of a high order, appears from the following 
facts: — 

At twelve o'clock (noon), of a certain day, I closed my second 
course of lectures, and all the other duties of the session, which 
my station had devolved on me. And at three o'clock P.M., of 
the same day, I set out on my voyage to Europe, for the procure- 
ment of a library and other requisite means of medical instruc- 
tion. After an absence of near eight months, I returned, having 
transmitted before me, or brought along with me, all my pur- 
chases. 1 arrived at Lexington On B Thursday afternoon, and, at 
eleven o'olook A. M. of the Monday following, commenced my 
third Course of lectures to a class, larger by about fifty per cent, 
than the preceding our had been, and went uninterruptedly 
through another course, as multiplex and laborious as either of 
I'u I'll ling ones, and in some respects more so; furl intro- 
duced into it a large amount of new and extra matter. Xur 
would it, have been possible lor me to have done all this, nor 
could any other man have done it, without a degree of self-COn- 
trol which but a small portion of the human family educated as 
I have been possesses. During the whole period .u/ my absence 
1 had not, spent, in actual idleness or intentional loitering, a 
Bingle hour. And though I saw and mingled in much company. 
differing in rank and character from the prince to the peasant, I 
did not frequent it from motives of amusement, pleasant pastime, 
or mere soeial enjoyment. 1 entered it in quest of improvement 
in the knowledge of human nature, in the different walks, profes- 
sions, and occupations in life. And my success was equally 
gratifying and useful to me. It enabled me, as one of its benefits, 
to lav the groundwork of literary correspondences, which proved 
subsequently the means of pleasant intercourse, and the source 
of inueh interesting information from abroad. Nor had I, at any 
time, while sojourning abroad, devoted to sleep more than live or 
six hours out of twenty four, and, on many occasions, when unusu- 
ally pressed by business, not more than three and a half or four 
hours. 1 mention these facts not boastingly, but merely to show 
in what way it is not only practicable, but actually easy, for a 



364 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

steady, assiduous, and self-controlling man greatly to surpass in 
performance his anticipations and hopes. 

Nor can any one fairly compute the amount of my achieve- 
ments on that occasion, without a knowledge of the differences 
between the modes, facilities, and degrees of speed of travelling, 
by land and by water, at that period, and at present. Journeying 
by steam had then scarcely a name, much less an efficient exist- 
ence. In Kentucky there were, at that period, no turnpikes. On 
the contrary, the roads during the thaw of early spring were often, 
and in many places, scarcely passable in any description of wheel- 
carriages. And, when I set out for Europe, this was literally 
true of the entire road between Lexington and Maysville. I was 
therefore compelled to travel it on horseback, and to convey my 
baggage on a pack-horse conducted by a servant mounted on a 
third horse. The animals were all powerful and active. Yet did 
they struggle through the deep and adhesive mud and slough, in 
many spots with great difficulty, and everywhere so slowly that 
I did not reach Maysville (distant but sixty miles, and having 
made no unnecessary halt) until an early hour of the fourth day. 
Nor was this all. 

So numerous and protracted, however, were my subsequent de- 
tensions- — at Maysville, waiting for a steamboat — at Wheeling for 
a stage (the travellers being at the time too numerous for the 
means of conveyance) — at Washington, which I visited to pro- 
cure letters and a passport — at Philadelphia, where I transacted a 
day r 's business — and at New York, where I took shipping — that, 
though my ocean-passage was a fair one, I was near seven weeks 
in reaching Liverpool, a voyage which can be accomplished now 
in less than half the time. 

My voyage to Europe was marked by nothing that deserves 
even a remembrance, much less a recital. The events that oc- 
curred, the individuals I saw and conversed with, and the scenes 
that presented themselves were but the mere commonplace of 
journeying by land and water. Or, if the voyage were in any 
degree memorable, it was because it was exempt from everything 
memorable. For it is rather strange and unusual, that in travel- 
ling near four thousand miles, a man should neither see nor hear 
anything either strange or unusual. 

But, no sooner had I trodden the confine of the Old World, 



CITARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 365 

than many men and women, scenes and things, presented them- 
selves, which attracted and interested me there, and some of which 
may perhaps be worthy now of a succinct representation. 

On my entering Liverpool, one of the earliest results of my ob- 
servations was, that the English women generally, though healthy 
and blooming in complexion, are neither beautiful in feature, ele- 
gant in form, tasteful in dress, refined in manners, nor graceful in 
movement. Their gait is comparatively coarse and vulgar. I 
mean that they are inferior in these several respects to the 
women of the United States of the same rank. Such at least was 
the decision of my judgment and taste. Nor did I hesitate to ex- 
press myself to that effect as often as I was called on to make 
known my sentiments on the subject, and deemed it neither in- 
delicate nor improper seriously to reply. And all enlightened 
travellers of observation and taste, who had visited the United 
States as well as Great Britian (Englishmen excepted), concurred 
with me in opinion. And the latter as well as myself were no doubt 
influenced, in their difference from me, by national taste no less 
than by national predjudice. For taste, in relation to female 
beauty, is not a connate abstraction — not a sentiment born with 
us. It is the result of a conventional form of mental action, 
produced by visible objects. Hence a national standard and 
sentiments of female beauty are as much realities, and as much 
the product of given circumstances, as are any other sorts of 
national attributes. And all nationalities come from such a 
source. .Man can no more disregard or modify at pleasure his 
national taste than he can do the same with his national com- 
plexion. Hence he is, to a certain extent, the creature of the 
combined influence o\' physical, intellectual, and moral circum- 
stances. 

Though the fact had been long known to me, never had it 
struck me so forcibly as it did now, that, as a people, the inhabit- 
ants of the United States are taller and slenderer than the inha- 
bitants of England, Nor did their greater slenderness arise from 
any want of either bone, muscle, tendon, or nerve; but from a 
want of cellular or adipose matter, which contributes to neither 
strength nor activity, but only to rotundity, smoothness, and 
weight It is, therefore, disadvantageous rather than beneficial, 
and is probably the chief cause of the general (J might say the 



366 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

national) superiority of Americans, compared to Englishmen, in 
elasticity, vigor, and springiness. For such superiority they cer- 
tainly possess. "Without, moreover, asserting it as a fact, I do not 
and cannot doubt that, in proportion to their actual dimension or 
size, the Americans are heavier than Englishmen. And my rea- 
son for this belief is, that muscle, tendon, bone, and nerve are, in 
proportion to their bulk, heavier than reticular or adipose sub- 
stance. Hence, a fat man floats in water more readily than a 
lean one, and, other things being alike, swims with more ease. 
Nor is it to be understood that the barely perceptible want of cel- 
lular tissue, in the natives of the United States, especially in the 
females, diminishes in the slightest degree their beauty and love- 
liness. On the contrary, it enhances them, by its bestowal of 
delicacy, grace, and refinement. 

Having passed two days in Liverpool in the arrangement of 
points of business connected with that great seat of commerce, I 
was making preparations, on the morning of the third, to set out 
immediately for London, in the mail-stage that was just ap- 
proaching the door of the Waterloo Hotel, in which I had taken 
rooms. I descended from my chamber, took my place in the 
stage, and started for London, under a standing promise, not 
often materially violated, to be conveyed to that wonderful mon- 
ument of human wealth and grandeur, at the average rate of 
eight miles an hour. I shall only add, under the present head, 
that to act his part with the servants of the establishment, as one 
of the dramatis personam in an eleemosynary parting scene, falls to 
the lot of,every respectable traveller on taking his departure from 
every hotel of character and standing in England, in which he 
has sojourned for two or three days, or for even a shorter period. 
In many hotels, gratuities from guests make the only wages that 
servants receive ; and, in some, the places of first and second wait- 
ers are so lucrative that the incumbencies are anxiously sought 
for, and even purchased by the holders of them at no inconsider- 
able prices. 

As those gratuities are so numerous, so frequently solicited, 
and so irregular in amount, the traveller and guest must adjust 
and rate them by custom aud the weight of his purse, else will he 
be often in difficulty and annoyance by them. I .once paid in the 
morning, after a single night's accommodation, seven domestics, 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 367 

who approached me under different names of station and services 
alleged to have been rendered to me. And, when travelling, 
I never washed my face and hands, in England, even when I 
only belted for breakfast or dinner, without paying at least six- 
pence for the accommodation. 

In France, especially in Paris, this point of hotel economy is 
better regulated; the daily or weekly stipend for the domestics 
is charged in the guest's or traveller's bill. Gratuities for extra 
services are often given, but not uniformly solicited. 

Soon after setting out from Liverpool for London, an event 
occurred to me which, though at first extremely mortifying, has 
never ceased to be extremely useful to me, even to the present 
boar, A brief recital of it, therefore, may be, probably on the 
same- gnpuii'l, useful to others. 

The stage in which I travelled (tarried four passengers, three 
gentlemen (myBelf included) and one lady — a middle-aged, well- 
dressed, and, in appearance, a somewhat fashionable and very 
respectable woman. 

A few miles from Liverpool, we passed, on our left hand side, 
a superb villa, surrounded by extensive grounds very beautifully 
inclosed, ornamented with trees, and enriched with statuary. Ou 
iirst speaking of its elegance and loveliness, and of the classic 
and correct taste displayed in its decorations, and then inquiring 
to whom it belonged, one of the gentlemen in the Stage replied: 
"To the late Dr. Solomon." "What," said I, " to Dr. Solomon, 
the Israelitish king of quacks and impostors! lie has really 
picked tbe pockets and drugged to death the good people of 
England to some purpose. But, no matter. lie served them as 
thev deserved, for allowing themselves to be duped by such an 
impudent, cozening, letterless knave." Mv invective contained 
still further terms oi' severe reproach and denunciation against 
Dr. Solomon, who had been, during his life, at the head of quack- 
ery and medical imposture, by which he had amassed a princely 
fortune. During my reprobation of the doctor, not a word of 
reply to me was made by any of the company. Nor did any one 
seem to feel much interest in the matter. Hence I did not greatly 
protract my condemnatory proscription. 

The morning had been clouded and rainy, as is more frequently 
the ease in Liverpool than in any other place I have ever visited. 



368 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

I have seen the clouds congregating over the city and its vicinity 
from all quarters, apparently reserving their stores of water until 
directly above their selected spot, and then emptying themselves 
on it in a perfect deluge. And the clouds often form themselves 
and rush together with uncommon celerity. Hence, when in the 
street; a man's only security against a discharge from the skirts 
or centre of some of them, is his umbrella. 

Not long after my unfortunate, yet just tirade against Dr. Solo- 
mon, the rain ceased, the clouds disappeared, and were succeeded 
by a bright azure sky, and as fine a flush of sunshine as England 
affords. 

Induced by a change so opportune and inviting, to enjoy a view 
of the fine country through which we were passing and designed 
to pass, the two gentlemen, my co-passengers already alluded to, 
changed their location from the inside of the coach to a position 
on the top of it. 

Thus left alone with the lady, whose appearance and deport- 
ment had favorably impressed me, I deemed it but a duty of 
common civility and gallantry to pay her such attention as cir- 
cumstances not only warranted, but seemed to require. I there- 
fore made an overture to conversation, marked by all the respect- 
ful observance and easy courtesy I could summon to the occasion. 

The introductory movement was well received ; and, in reply 
to a few questions I put, the lady sustained her part with entire 
credit. 

From the correct and familiar knowledge she possessed of 
various parts of England to which I referred, especially of its 
capital, and the readiness with which she communicated it, I at 
length asked her " whether she did not reside in London ?" To 
this question, her reply fell On me like a thunderbolt. "I reside, 
sir, in the villa a few miles behind us, of which you spoke so 
handsomely this morning." 

" Good God ! madam, am I conversing with Mrs. Solomon?" 

"You are, sir." 

"Then is my fault of this morning unatonable, and" — 

" Not at all, sir. In most things you said about my husband 
you were mistaken. But a mere mistake is not a heinous and 
unpardonable crime. And, from your appearance and general 
deportment, I am convinced that, had you known who I was, you 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. 1). 369 

would not have indulged in the strain of severity and condemna- 
tion which characterized your remarks." 

"There, madam, you do me justice; and the kindness, and libe- 
rality of your expressions, and the courtesy and mildness of your 
manner, have done more to mitigate the intensity of my self-con- 
demnation than could have been done by any other earthly 
Consideration. Had I known who you were, not the wealth of 
your island, nor the torture of the rack, could have forced from 
me the faintest of the terms I employed." 

" I know it, sir, I know it; and, with your permission, I will 
change the subject of our conversation, and beg to know some- 
thing about your place of residence, as you do of mine. I think 
you are ool an Englishman?" 

" I am not, madam. 1 am an American; born and bred in the 
backwoods of the United States, wolves, wild-cats, and bears 
having been among my earliest companions and teachers, You 
cannot, therefore, lie much surprised at the harshness of my man- 
ner and the thorniness of my nature." 

Alter a momentary indulgence in good-natured badinage, we 
entered into conversation of B very different and superior cast ; 
and 1 found the lady to be well-informed, well-bred, and an ex- 
cellent oolloquist 

We thus passed much of our time, until we reached Birming- 
ham, when the stage put up for the night: and to which my 
companion was bound, on a visit to a near connection. On our 
arrival in that great seat of manufacture and trade, I accompanied 
her, at her request, to the dwelling of her kinsman; and, at her 
further request, returned from the hotel, after having secured a 
room, and deposited my b and passed with her another 

pleasant hour in the family of her relation and friend, where she 
had given every one the history of our day's acquaintance and 
intercourse. And, after having participated in an excellent sup- 
per, 1 took leave of her on much more friendly and amicable 
terms than 1 could possibly have done, certainly than I would 
have done, had our adventure of the morning not taken place. 
The reason is plain. We made mutual exertions to please, which 
On no other ground we would or indeed could have made. She 
had acted toward me with consummate liberality and good 
nature: and, on the principle that "like begets like," I had, in a 

L'l 



370 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

spirit of rivalry, exerted myself to make a becoming and worthy 
return. A competition between us in amicability and agreeable- 
ness bad been thus excited, and hence alone the result. 

The events just described occurred in the year 1821. And 
when, in 1841, I again entered the port of Liverpool, and made a 
visit to her villa, Mrs. Solomon was not there. She was repos- 
ing in marble, by the side of her husband; and her comparatively 
desolate, but still lovely and beautiful dwelling, had passed into 
the possession of the heir-at-law. 

I have said that my scene with Mrs. Solomon was subsequently 
useful to me. And so it was. It taught me a degree of cautious- 
ness and practical discretion, which I had not previously pos- 
sessed ; which, at least, I had occasionally failed to exercise. 
Hence, I never afterward unintentionally offended strangers, or 
wounded their sensibilities, by thoughtlessly uttering, in their 
presence, uncalled-for and painful sentiments. In a word. I 
always in future examined more carefully than I had done pre- 
viously, before making known my thoughts and opinions, what 
might be their effect, when uttered, on the feelings of those who 
might hear them. And many others may profit by the same 
degree of forethought and good breeding. For good breeding 
(which is but another name for a delicate and refined employ- 
ment of good sense and good feeling) forbids us unnecessarily to 
give pain or annoyance to those with whom we associate, by either 
actions or words. And that is a form of observance which is 
too often wanting, even in the deportment of many persons who 
are far from being destitute of what the world calls politeness. 

Though my primary object in visiting Europe was to make 
preparation for a medical school, yet was my desire to become 
acquainted with some of her distinguished men scarcely secondary 
to it; while to ascertain the effects of different states of society 
and different pursuits in life, on the classes of men long and some- 
what hereditarily connected with them, constituted a third topic of 
inquiry of great interest to me. 

For my wish and resolution to accomplish, as far as possible, 
the first object, I had a threefold reason — a desire to compare dis- 
tinguished men with their general reputations, in order to be en- 
abled to determine for myself whether the latter could be safely 
received and fully relied on as a standard for the admeasurement 



Cn ARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 371 

of the former; ami if there were any differences between the 
strength and efficiency of the great men of Europe and those of 
America, to ascertain the cause of it. 

Of Europeans of distinction, the individual with whom I first 
formed a personal acquaintance was the celebrated Mr. Roscoe, 
df Liverpool, author of the Lift of Lorenzo de Medici, and of other 
able and celebrated works. And hifl appearance spoke strongly 
in his favor. He was tall, and, though advanced in years, well 
formed and erect, with great dignity and sufficient grace of de- 
portment and manner, a noble countenance, and a size and form 
of bead indicative of a bigb order of moral and intellectual 
strength and efficiency. And such, as far as my intercourse with 
him enabled me to judge, were the leading attributes of his cha- 
racter, lie possessed no mental quality that could be called bril- 
liant, and was not therefore to be regarded as a man of genius, in 
the true acceptation of the term, lie had derived from nature a 
good and improvable, but not a pre-eminent constitution of mind. 
Murli of his mental strength was acquired; it was the product, I 
mean, of cultivation and exercise; and that is by far the most 
praotioal and useful kind of Btrength; it produces, in the propor- 
tion of a hundred to one, the greatest number of distinguished 
men. (ireatness from original Btrength of mind is a rare creation, 
and when it docs occur, it is too apt to be accompanied by some 
unbridled propensity, which greatly mars or destroys its usefulness. 
Of this form of character the celebrated Mirabeau was a striking 
example. 

Mr. Roscoe was a man of great industry and knowledge of 
books, of a creditable order of Boholarahip and taste, of a consider- 
able grasp of mind, and of sound judgment and decision of 
character. But bis stock of real science, especially physical science, 
was moderate; and, as already stated, he had no genius. His real 
greatness did not Gil up the measure of his character. He was 
deemed greater when at a distance than he was actually found 
to be when closely approached, strictly scrutinized, and thoroughly 
known. In his general appearance be reminded me of Washington ; 
but in majesty and grandeur of person, and in what constitutes 
strength and magnificence of head and countenance, he was greatly 
inferior. So, however, was every other member of the human 



372 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

family I have ever beheld. In the attribute of sublimity in all 
these points, Washington "stood alone." 

Dr. Bostock was the gentleman of scientific and literary stand- 
ing, whose acquaintance I next made ; and to him, whose residence 
was then in London, I was introduced by a letter from Mr. Eoscoe. 
His reputation was high. But I soon found that his reputed and 
real greatness were very disproportioned to each other. By the 
latter, therefore, it was impossible even to approach a correct 
knowledge of the former. In truth, Dr. Bostock was an incon- 
siderable, not to say a spurious man. He was made up of a» 
undigested, or at least of an ill-digested mass of books, the more 
labored productions of other men. In his own productions, no 
original thought, nor even the semblance of it, ever found a place. 
From all my interviews and conversations with him (and they 
were numerous, and often not abundantly curtailed), though I 
learned something respecting books from the press, not previously 
known to me, yet did I never receive even a hint, derived imme- 
diately from the book of nature. 

Of Dr. Philips Wilson (subsequently Sir Philips Wilson), the 
same was true. His reputation was far superior to his strength. 
Though abundantly book-learned, he was comparatively a stranger 
to nature in all her departments, and, therefore, defective in 
original matter. 

True, he has made not a few experiments, and the results of 
some of them were new and useful. But the experiments them- 
selves were virtually derivative; because they were analogous to 
previous experiments — if not in imitation of them. They were 
no more, therefore, than aids to what had been done by others. 
They indicated no shadow of mental originality, independence, 
and strength. Any man might have been their author, and 
have attained by them neither real distinction nor lasting credit. 

Though he had written somewhat extensively, and I had looked 
into his works with approval and benefit, yet was I, in my first 
interview with him, absolutely amazed at his miserable manifes- 
tation of himself. His conversation was wanting in everything 
calculated either to attract, awaken, or instruct. Of matter it was 
barren, and in meaning deficient in sprightliness, perspicuity, and 
force. His reputation, therefore, and his real character, instead of 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 373 

being in any degree of congeniality and harmony, were almost 
the very reverse of each other. 

Of Sir Astley Cooper, although I must not say precisely the 
same, yet I do say that, between his medical and surgical reputa- 
tion, and his real medical and surgical ability, or indeed his men- 
tal ability of any description, there was a great difference. While 
his talents, except for the augmentation of strength they had 
derived from long and unremitting exercise, were but little above 
mediocrity, his professional celebrity was of a very exalted order; 
and the income he derived from professional practice superior, I 
believe, in amount to that of any other physician or surgeon now 
living, or, as far as I am informed on the subject, that ever has 
lived in either Europe or America. For several years it was all 
but princely. 

To what, then, it may be reasonably asked, were his great 
celebrity and unprecedented pecuniary success in practice attribut- 
able? To the influence of his personal appearance and manners. 
1 am inclined to reply, in a much higher degree than I have ever 
witnessed in the ease of any other professional character — or 
indeed of any character, whether professional or unprofessional. 

In every attribute whose union with others composed the man. 
Sir Astley was one of the most elegant and magnificent of beings 
(Washington still excepted)! have ever beheld ; and, in dignity 
and eleganoe of style, his manners corresponded with his person. 
Nor did he fail to employ the whole to consummate effect, uniting 
in the effort entire ease with simplicity and grace. I say the 
effort, though not the shadow of an effort was perceptible. It 
was all natural and free from pretence. Hence the perfection 
and influence of the combination. With the peeresses of Eng- 
land, it rendered him one of the first of favorites, and that made 
his fortune. He was, in all respects, the beau-ideal of plausibility 
anil persuasiveness. 

Is any one inclined to say that, with the moderate abilities here 
attributed to him, Sir Astley could not have been a great surgeon 
in the city o{' London, surrounded as he was by certain com- 
petitors whose talents were acknowledged to be of a high order? 
If SO, my reply is, that to the constitution of eminence in operative 
surgery, talents of great elevation and strength are not necessary. 
Steadiness, firmness, and intrepidity, experience, and the posses- 



374 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

sion of mechanical talents, are sufficient for the purpose. It is to 
extent and depth in the principles or philosophy of surgery that 
a distinguished intellect is essential. And without saying that 
Sir Astley Cooper was at all a stranger to philosophical surgery 
I hazard nothing in stating that his chief distinction was in the 
operative department. In none of his writings has he displayed 
either originality, strength, or profoundness, in the philosophy of 
the branch. In truth, I have known no man whose reputation 
was more pre-eminent over his intellect, than was that of Sir 
Astley Cooper. 

Sir Astley Cooper and John Hunter were as much, and as 
literally, in most respects, the opposite of each other, as it is pos- 
sible for two men of eminence in the same branch of professional 
science to be. 

Of the latter, not a single exterior attribute — not even his mode 
of conversing — was either imposing or attractive, but the very 
reverse. Nor did exteriors occupy his attention to a sufficient 
extent, to induce him to pay to their cultivation and improvement 
a shadow of attention. As a man, therefore, he was rather repul- 
sive. But, as a surgeon, he was perhaps the ablest and most 
respected the world has produced, and, therefore, the most perma- 
nently commanding and attractive. For these qualities, however, 
he depended entirely on interiors. His performances and cha- 
racter will, therefore, last as long as the profession he cultivated 
and improved. 

Mr. Abernethy was also in many respects the very opposite of 
Sir Astley. In person, nature had done little for him, but her 
want of high endowment there, she had munificently compen- 
sated by an active, penetrating, and powerful mind. But his 
temper, as is well known, was capricious, and his manners eccen- 
tric and abrupt, and not unfrequently uncouth and exceptionable, 
not to say offensive. He was merely tolerated, therefore, on 
account of his great ability and skill in surgery, both practical 
and scientific, but not actually on account of anything else. He 
passed, therefore, for as much less than he was worth, as his 
renowned contemporary and rival, Sir Astley, did for more. At 
the only time of my intercourse with him (the year 1821), I con- 
sidered him one of the strongest and most accomplished surgeons 
in Europe. And so did the world. Yet, on account of his unac- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 375 

ceptable manners alone, or at least chiefly, his professional income 
did not, as was believed, amount to more than a fifth of the income 
of his high-mannered rival. 

Notwithstanding the peculiar eccentricities and crotchets of 
Mr. Abernethy, it was easy for those who had a correct know- 
ledge of him to become favorites with him, and to convert hirn 
into a warm, steady, and permanent friend. On this point I 
made myself a successful experiment. The particulars are as fol- 
lows : — 

I bore letters to Mr. Abernethy, and being apprised by Mr. 
Laurence, of whom I shall speak hereafter, of the gentlern 
oddities and abruptness, 1 determined, and prepared myself 
accordingly, to meet him od his own ground, and either to vanquish 
him, or hold n< > intercourse with him. 

Advised of his hours for receiving company, I called daring 
one of them, and finding him alone in his reception-room, ap- 
proached him with due observance, and, in my very best style 
and manner, presented to him my letters. Having opened one 

of them, and merely glanced at the heading of it, he said, with 
the preliminary interjection: "llahl from the Lnited States, I Bee. 
I am very busy just now, sir, and — " 

" So am I, sir," said I, interrupting him in his excuse, apology, 
explanation, or whatever else he was about to offer as a reason 
for not reading, or even looking at my letters. "So am I, sir, 
much engaged;" and, laying my card on the table, I simply and 
laconically added: "I wish you a good-morning, sir;" and, turn- 
ing suddenly, walked toward the door. 

Evidently disconcerted by the abruptness of my manner and 
the suddenness of my movement, he followed me to the door, and 
as I set my foot on the platform of the steps leading into the 
Street, he spoke to me as if to detain me, and hold somewhat of a 
parley. But determined on my scheme of conduct toward him, I 
hastily replied in some monosyllable, and then adding: "Pray, 
excuse me, sir;" and again bowing and wishiug him a good-morn- 
ing, 1 unceremoniously left him. 

On the morning <A' the day following, my visit to him not hav- 
ing been returned, I received from him an invitation to dinner on 
the third day afterward, the acceptance of which I immediately 
declined ; and, in the afternoon of the same day, I accepted from 



376 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

Mr. Laurence an invitation to dine with him on the same subse- 
quent third day. Of this transaction Mr. Abernethy was informed, 
and spoke of it as if somewhat disappointed and piqued by it. 
Meanwhile, I had told Mr. Laurence of my unceremonious recep- 
tion by Mr. Abernethy, and of the manner in which I had acted. 

A day or two after my having dined with Mr. Laurence, the 
two gentlemen met, when something like the following colloquy 
occurred : — 

" Well, Laurence," said Mr. Abernethy, in his plain homespun 
way, "when have you seen your new American acquaintance'/" 

" What acquaintance do you mean ?" 

" I mean Dr. Caldwell." 

"I saw him this morning, sir." 

"Is he not a queer quick-on-tbe-trigger kind of fellow?" 

"I have seen nothing uncommon about him whatever, sir." 

"You have not! Faith, but I have." 

Having then correctly narrated what had taken place at the 
time of my call on him, and of my having afterward promptly 
declined his invitation to dinner on a given day, he added: "Did 
he not dine with you on the same day on which he had refused 
to dine with me? — and had not my invitation been received by 
him previously to his reception of yours?" 

"I believe he did dine with me, on an invitation received in the 
afternoon of the day in the morning of which he had declined your 
invitation." 

" And do you see nothing queer or uncommon in that ? What 
can the doctor's reason be for treating me so ?" 

" Did you not, Mr. Abernethy, decline reading his letters, and 
tell him, when he called on you, that you were very much en- 
gaged ?" 

" Yes, I believe I did ; but that need not have driven him, with 
the bound of a football, out of my house. I liked his appearance 
and manners; there was meaning in them; and though I was 
somewhat busy, I would have been better pleased with a little 
chat with him, without reading his letters. You know I don't like 
long stories of any kind." 

" Being told by yourself that you were busy, he did not wish 
to impede or interrupt you in your engagements; and I think he 
acted correctly in retiring." 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 377 

" Well, but why did he refuse my invitation to dinner?" 

" Have you returned his call, Mr. Abernethy?" 

" Keturned his call ! No, faith, I forgot. Is that the cause of 
his refusing to dine with me?" 

"Is it not a sufficient cause, sir? Would you not yourself 
refuse on account of a similar one?" 

" Egad ! I .suppose I would. Well, well, I '11 soon set all that 
right." And the colloquy ended. 

On the forenoon of the following day, as I was proceeding 
along the Strand toward one of my booksellers, I heard my name 
called somewhat loudly from the opposite side of the street ; and 
looking in the direction whence the call came, I perceived Mr. 
Abernethy advancing toward me, already half-way across the 
street, and eagerly extend Lng to me his open hand. 

I immediately stepped from the paved footway into the less 
cleanly part of the street to meet him, when he again called to 
me : " Pray, don't muddy your feet, sir; it is my business to cross 
the street to you, and you see I am doing it." Grasping my hand 
cordially, he continued : " 1 am on my way to call on you, which 
I hope you '11 excuse me for not having done sooner; but truly, sir, 
I forgot it." " 1 regret, sir," was my reply, " that I am not at home 
to receive you. And I am out on an engagement, without a 
breach of which I cannot turn hack with you to my hotel." " Oh ! 
sir, I would not put you to that trouble were you even at leisure. 
But will you receive this meeting and my intention to call on you 
this morning, as a visit, and favor me this afternoon at six o'clock 
with your company, to eat a mutton-chop?" "I will do both, sir, 
with pleasure." And we parted ; he on his professional tour, and 
I to make good my engagement. 

On my arrival at the dwelling of Mr. Abernethy, at the dinner 
hour, my reception was as different from that I had experienced 
at the same place a short time previously, as fancy herself can 
well conceive. On that occasion I had been all but requested to 
leave the house and not be troublesome; but now I was met and 
welcomed with great cordiality and even courtesy (for the gentle- 
man could he courteous as well as plain and half-rude in his man- 
ner^, and very ilatteringly introduced to three or four gentlemen 
of distinction who had been invited to meet me. The mutton- 
chops, moreover, which I had been summoned to eat, had been, by 



378 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

some culinary magic, metamorphosed into an elegant and sump- 
tuous repast. Nor was rich and fine-flavored Attic sauce by any 
means wanting to heighten enjoyment. Mr. Abernethy himself 
conversed, when inclined to do so, with great point and pleasant- 
ness, and he made, on the present occasion, one of his finest 
displays. But having been told by Mr. Laurence that I was fond 
of conversation, and that perhaps I prided myself somewhat on 
my own reputed accomplishments in it, he seated me alongside 
of a lady regarded as among the rarest colloquists in England ; 
and she was certainly an extraordinary mistress of the art ; abund- 
ant in matter of a suitable character; animated and graceful in 
manner; ready, choice, and accurate in words and their combina- 
tions; and the possessor of a very charming voice. She had even 
studied the principles of the art, as well as carefully and ambi- 
tiously practised them ; and flattering success had rewarded her 
exertions, yet was she neither pedantic nor vain ; at least she 
made no display of either quality. On the whole, the enjoj'ment 
of the evening was high and delightful; and from that time Mr. 
Abernethy was one of the most attentive, civil, and useful acquaint- 
ances (in usual parlance, I might say friends) I had in London. 
Contrary to the case of most other men, his reputation and cus- 
tomary exhibition of himself were not a little inferior to his 
reality. 

From Mr. Laurence I received, in 1821, a much more uniform, 
gratifying, and valuable series of attentions and civilities than from 
any other professional gentleman in London, or indeed in Europe. 

In private and professional life no man is more amiable, upright, 
and estimable, more extensively informed, or of greater practical 
ability and acknowledged usefulness. 

To that noble and high-jjiinded gentleman, in whose hospitable 
dwelling no well-recommended American ever failed to find him- 
self at home, I was indebted for being specially introduced to no 
small number of highly-distinguished and interesting characters. 
One of these, whom I am bound to mention in terms of peculiar 
kindness and the most exalted estimation, was Mrs. Somerville, 
celebrated for her attainments and writings in several arduous 
and elevated branches of science, especially in Astronomy and 
Physical Geography. My first interview with that extraordinary 
woman made on me an impression never to be erased, save with 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 379 

the entire erasure of my memory. It occurred at the breakfast- 
table, in her own mansion, and was as follows. 

Dr. Somerville, her husband, was the attending physician of 
Chelsea Hospital, a celebrated institution which I had a wish to 
visit. Having been made known to the doctor by my friend, Mr. 
Laurence, I was kindly invited to take breakfast with him the 
next morning, and accompany him on his official visit to the 
hospital. 

On being ushered by Dr. Somerville into the break fast- room, 
and introduced to his wife, I took, at her request, a seat by her 
at table. In neither her appearance nor manner was there any- 
thing to attract particular attention. She was rather below the 
middle size, plain but neat in her person and attire, and entirely 
free from affectation or pretence. Her eye was keen and rather 
playful; her countenance sprightly, but not beautiful. She con- 
versed with Buencyand ease, and did the honors of her table with 
good-breeding and taste. Her children, two or three in number, 
wnc of the party. 

Breakfast being finished, Dr. Somerville rose, and, telling me 
that lie had a private visit or two to make before his visit to the 
hospital, familiarly added: "I will leave you and Mrs. Somerville 
to take care of each other until my return." 

The office being cheerfully accepted by me, I deemed it my 
duty to enter on the fulfilment of it, to the best of my ability, 
without loss of time. I accordingly commenced with the lady a 
conversation on the polite literature of the day, including the 
writings of Seott, Byron, Campbell, Southey, Wordsworth, and 
other living authors; and in both the knowledge and appreciation 
of those works, I found her perfectly at home. 

Perceiving in a neat rosewood bookcase, the door of which was 
open, a few volumes on botany, ornithology, aud zoology, I 
ohanged the subjects of conversation to those branches of science, 
and found her in them but little, if at all, inferior. I changed 
again t" geology and mineralogy, and found her, in the know- 
ledge of the latter, decidedly my superior. A volume of La 
Place, which caught my eye, directed my mind, for a moment, to 
the science of astronomy, respecting which she conversed with 
such a familiarity and compass of knowledge as might have led 



380 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

to a belief that she had just returned from a tour among the 
heavenly bodies. 

After a momentary silence, and looking at the lady in actual 
astonishment, I said to her sportively: "Pray, madam, is there 
anything either in the world or out of it that is not known to 
you ?" 

"0, yes, sir; very many things." 

"I really know not, fair lady, what they are ; I have run through 
the circle of my knowledge, and you have led me in every point 
of it." 

After a brief silence, the lady rose, and asked me to follow her 
into an adjoining room, where I found suits of both chemical and 
mechanico-philosophical apparatus; and I soon perceived, by her 
conversation, that she was perfectly familiar with the practical 
employment of them. 

After loitering and conversing here a few minutes, we passed 
into another room, which was decorated by a number of very 
handsome paintings. Having examined them for several minutes, 
I pointed to three or four of them and said: "These are very ex- 
cellent copies of antiques. Pray, may I ask who is the painter of 
them?" 

As she did not reply immediately, I fixed my eye on her coun- 
tenance, and observing it suffused by an incipient blush, I said, 
with a gentle tap on her cheek : " This heightened rose tinge is a 
tell-tale ; you painted them yourself" — which she acknowledged 
was the case. 

I then took her by the hand, and said: "Now, madam, will you 
do me the favor to answer a single question? Pray, who are 
you ?" 

" I am Mrs. Somerville, sir." 

"I know that, madam, but who were you before you became 
Mrs. Somerville?" 

"I was Miss " (I have forgotten her maiden name), " a 

little Scotch girl, a pupil of Dr. Playfair." 

At this moment, Dr. Somerville, having finished his private 
visits, entered the room, to announce to me his readiness to con- 
duct me to Chelsea, and I soon took leave of the lady philoso- 
pher — for such she must be called. 

Chelsea is known to be the great British asylum of superannu- 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 381 

ated soldiers. Among the war-worn veterans it contained, was 
the body servant of Gen. Wolfe, who, seventy years previously, 
had been by the side of that celebrated officer, when he fell mid 
the shouts of victory by the walls of Quebec. lie was, by several 
years, beyond his centenarian period; and, when I spoke to him 
of the gallantry and fame of his master, he wept like an infant. 
And when I gave him, by permission, a shilling to drink to the 
general's memory, he answered with sobs: "God bless your honor; 
and I'll drink your health with his, for, like him, you have been 
kind to me." 

Having gone the round of the hospital, which, in grandeur 
bears no comparison with the Hotel des Invalides of Paris, Dr. 
Somerville conducted me to the studio of the celebrated Chantrey, 
the Canova of Great Britain, with whom I was not abundantly 
pleased. In my judgment of him, he possessed much more of 
the affectation than of the reality of a great man. There was, in 
whatever he dill or said, an effort of intensity, or a simulation of 
vigor, which, t<> me, would have been exceptionable in appear- 
ance had it even been natural; and, affected, as it evidently was, 
it excited my disgust. My impression was then, and is yet, that 
a man possessed of a relish for such tense, stiff, and shapeless 
manners, could not have a taste for the beauties of nature, and 
could never, therefore, excel in the art of statuary; and the result, 
in the present case, accorded with my opinion. Chantrey 's reputa- 
tion died with himself. 

On the third day alter my first introduction to her, I received 
from Mis. Somerville a card of invitation to a "conversation party 
of ladies" in the evening. As the title of the party was to every 
.me unusual, and to me entirely new, I suspected it had in it a 
Special meaning, and accepted it eagerly, and with an excited 
curiosity. And my suspicion was correct. The specialty, more- 
over, pointed to myself, and when I entered Mrs. Somerville's 
drawing-room, and during the whole evening, there was no gentle- 
man present but the doctor and myself. 

Mis. Somerville having been not herself dissatisfied with my 
style of conversation, and having heard me expressing the grati- 
fication 1 had often experienced from the conversation of ladies 
who excelled in the art, and my regret that it was, as an art, so 
little cultivated, and that therefore but few did excel in it, aud 



382 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

having herself, as she afterwards told me, conceived a belief 
that I considered the ladies of the United States more able and 
agreeable conversationists than those of England, from these con- 
siderations, in order to undeceive me in my opinion (which she 
deemed erroneous) of the inferiority of her countrywomen in 
an accomplishment of which I had spoken in terms of high 
praise, she had invited to meet me a small party regarded as 
some of the most cultivated and charming female colloquists in 
London, or in the kingdom. 

Accordingly, on entering Mrs. Somerville's tasteful but not 
gorgeous drawing-room, I was introduced by her, in terms of 
compliment, to Mrs. Fry, the reputed reformer, by her conversation 
and other modes of influence, of female bridewells; Miss Edge- 
worth, and her two sisters; the honorable Elizabeth Lamb; and 
another lady, equally celebrated, whose name I have forgotten. 
And when the introduction was over, my kind cicerone said to 
me playfully, but in an undertone, I have caught you ; prepare 
yourself; you are soon about to have female conversation enough 
to convince you that the ladies of England can talk as well as 
those of your own country — a truth which you seem to doubt." 

"Pray, pardon me, fair lady; I never doubted that since I have 
had the honor of knowing you." 

" No more of that, if you please ; I did not ask your company 
to-night to talk to you of myself; I have other things to occupy 
me. Go and entertain Mrs. Fry, while I attend to some house- 
hold affairs." 

And, in a moment, she disappeared, and "left me alone in my" 
— no, not in my "glory" — but in my half dismay, at the task of 
entertaining half a dozen of talk-loving ladies. "But," said I to 
myself, " they are all, I hope, so anxious to hear the vibrations of 
their owu tongues, that they'll talk and entertain each other, and 
I shall have nothing to do but to listen." 

Very soon, however, I discovered my mistake. Mrs. Fry con- 
vinced me, in the first half minute I sat by her side, that she knew 
well the difference between harangue and conversation. She neither 
wished to make a speech herself nor to listen to one. She desired 
mutual and pertinent remark and reply. And she set a judicious, 
well-bred and significant example. Having offered her own 
sentiments on some topic, she respectfully paused to receive my 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M.D. 333 

answer. And the manner of her pause, accompanied by the 
peculiar expression of her look, amounted to a requisition not to 
be resisted. At length, on a delicate hint from Mrs. Fry, I left 
her, and seated myself beside a lady whose name I have forgotten; 
I then removed to Lady Lamb ; then to Miss Edgeworth, and after- 
ward to each of her sisters; and, last of all, Mrs. Somerville 
claimed her portion of rny time, which I granted most cheerfully. 

After this, the conversation became less formal and restricted, 
and at length entirely free and unrestricted, except by the rules 
of courtesy and propriety. 

Tims passed away the evening, fraught with enjoyment of a 
very high and dignified order. No pedantry or presumptuous- 
ness mi account of learning or knowledge; no frivolity or undue 
levity marked it. The exercises in which we indulged were to 
mc as delightful as they were new and curious; and we continued 
them until a late hour. ( >u our separation, I received from each 
of the ladies a polite and very earnest invitation to visit her, which 
formally I did; hut with none of them, except Mrs. Somerville, 
did 1 hold any other than mere fashionable intercourse. Indeed, 
1 had DO leisure for anything more, whatever might have been 
mv disposition to that effect. 

Another person with whom 1 became acquainted was the cele- 
brated Mr. Qodwin, one of the most Bingnlarly gifted and deeply 
perverted individuals of the day. I first met him, and was made 
known to him at the table of Mr. Laurence. The company was 
large, and several other of the guests distinguished in some of the 
learned professions in literature or the arts. 

The talents bestowed on Mr. Laurence by nature are of a high 
order, and his scholarship and general cultivation of mind fully 
correspond with them. As a surgeon, whether scientific or prac- 
tical, and whether he be regarded as a writer or a public teacher, 
he has no superior. As a man, his hospitalities are bounded only 
by his means, which are abundantly ample. His manners and 
habits are those of a gentleman and a philanthropist; he is an 
ardent promoter of literature and science; and in his discharge of 
the duties of social and domestic life, he is in no degree inferior 
to himself in the other higher and more public walks and engage- 
ments to which I have referred. 



384 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

Such are some of the characteristics of Mr. Laurence ; and they 
are sufficient to shed a lustre on any member of any community. 

I have yet said but little of the city of London ; nor is it my 
intention to say much of it. My reason for thus acting, or rather 
declining to act, is plain, and, I think, sound. I am writing my 
own history or biography, not the history or character of other 
things or of particular places ; and an account of sight-seeing is 
not autobiography, nor has it any close or strong connection with 
it. My province, therefore, as an autobiographer, does not enjoin 
on me to describe scenes or transactions in which I myself had 
little or no participation. 

Were London described in the abstract, as a thing existing in 
itself, it should be spoken of in terms involving the physical ideas 
of vastness, mightiness, grandeur, and durability, to which might 
be added the moral idea of usefulness. But exteriorly it exhibits 
neither real magnificence, elegance, nor beauty ; and however 
massy, solid, and substantial it may be in all its elements, yet in 
contemplating it, you never think of anything sublime, nor expe- 
rience a single sublime emotion; or if the sentiment of sublimity 
be ever near being awakened in you, it is when you are looking 
at St. Paul's, and perhaps Westminster Abbey, towering in their 
loftiness and majesty, and expanding in their magnitude, in con- 
trast with the diminutiveness of the surrounding buildings. And 
when you pass through the tunnel under the Thames, you instinc- 
tively experience sentiments not easily defined. They seem to 
be a compound of wonder and awe, with which is mingled a feel- 
ing that cannot perhaps be better characterized by any form of 
expression, than by that of a sense of profundity, depth, or down- 
wardness. When in that stupendous vault, which full daylight 
never enters, and where dead silence prevails, you call to mind 
the fact that immediately overhead are incumbent, at high tide, 
the waters of a mighty river, their downward pressure augmented 
by the weight of numerous heavy-laden ships of every size, and 
the overwhelming descent on you of that immeasurable volume 
of water, prevented only by a wall whose strength and endurance 
are not yet sufficiently time-tried ; when in a place thus novel in 
its existence and in all its relations, and not yet guaranteed by 
experience against dismal disaster, you calmly reflect on the situa- 
tion into which your curiosity has led you, it is scarcely in the 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 385 

nature of things that your feelings are altogether pleasant, or 
your spirits buoyant and hopeful. With the gratification you 
enjoy (for gratified you are), it is hardly possible that certain 
bodings of disaster or destruction do not mingle more or less their 
distasteful elements. This I say on the ground of personal expe- 
rience, the moat abundant as well as the most reliable source of 
instruction. 1 have m it been generally accounted, nor do I believe 
that I deserve to be accounted, a faint-hearted man ; yet do I 
freely confess that when I entered on my first passage through 
the Thames Tunnel, 1 was very far from being in a cheerful rnood. 
Nothing short of genuine and exquisite merriment could have 
drawn from me a smile. True, the work was not yet complete; 
but visitors made their way through it in safety every hour of the 
day. 

While in London, I passed many leisure hours in the two 
Houses of Parliament (always at night), listening to the debates 
which frequently took place in those two distinguished bodies. 
And 1 was not a little disappointed in the style and general 
character of the eloquence (including both matter and manner) 
usually displayed by them, hi my own opinion, I had often 
heard public speaking of a higher order, in the Senate and llouse 
of Representatives of the Tinted States. 

In the House of Lords, Earl Grey was to me far the most 
agreeable speaker, though not perhaps the ablest, and in the 
llouse of Commons, Mr. Canning was both. They were both, in 
the true sense of the term, eloquent men — the latter, however, 
the more eloquent. Then speeches were never declamatory. 
They made no efforts intended for popularity and transitory effect. 
Their views were honestly delivered to inform, instruct, improve, 
and enlighten ; and they seldom, if ever, failed in either of those 
points; though they did not always practically convince and 
direct. Mr. Brougham (afterwards Lord Brougham) was in some 
respects fully as able a speaker as Canning; but far from being 
either so attractive, persuasive, or influential. In truth, he was 
noi a favorite in the llouse, and was therefore the less successful. 
lor, it is well known, that in debate, no less than in other forms 
of exercise, " the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle 
to the strong." lu all things, partiality and prejudice more or 
less bear sway. None but a very powerful and well-regulated 
25 



386 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

conscience and judgment can always effectually resist and control 
them. 

Sir James Mackintosh was a very close and cogent reasoner 
but although an uncommonly distinguished colloquist, neither an 
agreeable speaker, nor a very successful debater. In his elocu- 
tion, he was neither tasteful nor judicious. He was often vehe- 
ment when he should have been calm, and comparatively tame 
when he might have been correctly enough earnest, and even 
advantageously ardent. His influence in the House was not 
well proportioned to his merit as either a man or a legislator. 

Wilberforce, whom I heard on his favorite subject (the extir- 
pation of the slave trade and the abolition of slavery), at the 
express request of Sir James Mackintosh, was, at the time, a mere 
declaimer, and not at all an efficient one. He was enfeebled, how- 
ever, in both mind and manner, by indisposition and age. I 
think I heard him in one of his last efforts, not long before his 
death. He had doubtless been previously a much more forcible 
and successful debater, but he never could have been a power- 
ful one. Plunket was a manly, substantial, and energetic speaker; 
he therefore commanded attention and possessed influence. Nor 
must I say less of the companion of Lord Byron, in his travels 
through Greece, whose name I cannot at this moment certainly 
call to mind, but I believe it was Hobhouse. The style of his 
eloquence was excellent. 

But, singular as it may appear, Lord Castlereagh, the Prime 
Minister, who possessed more influence in the House than half 
the other members of it (who, indeed, ruled the House), was the 
least impressive and energetic speaker I saw on the floor. He 
could with no propriety be called a public speaker (at least ac- 
cording to the usual understanding of the phrase). He was a 
mere talker ; and, though he was always what might be called 
fluent, pleasant, and sprightly in his remarks, he was never, in 
appearance, even truly earnest. 

His manner while speaking was perfectly unique. From the 
moment he commenced his remarks until he closed them, he was 
never stationary. And his movement was directly forward and 
backward, toward the speaker of the House, whom he addressed, 
by a few steps face foremost, and a few backward toward his seat. 
Nor, singular as thiis manner was, were his observations thus 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 337 

communicated without effect. It is not now in my recollection' 
that I ever knew him to lose a measure that he had either 
himself proposer!, or adopted and defended as the proposal of 
another, lie appeared, moreover, to be always in a pleasant and 
half playful humor — a circumstance the less to be expected, in 
consequence of the severity with which he was often assailed. 

'I'll period I passed in London, in the year 1821, was in a high 
degree eventful. It was signalized by the decease of the Empe- 
ror Napoleon, or rather by the arrival in England of the intelli- 
gence of his decease in St. Helena; by the death of Queen 
('aniline; and bv the coronation of < reurje the Fourth; the latter 
event, destined, I doubt not, to be the last magnificent pageant of 
the sort that England will ever behold. And it was also, I be- 
lieve, tin- most magnificent sin- ever has beheld. < >f those memor- 
able events, 1 witnessed some of the consequences. 

The very day before the reception of the news of the decease of 
Napoleon, an offer had been made to me of an excellent minia- 
ture likeness of that wonderful man for five sovereigns; a price 
which I refused to give. On the day after the news, I called on 
the proprietor of the miniature, determined to purchase it at the 
price of ten sovereigns, if I could not possess myself of it for 
a smaller sum. But the price of it had been already raised to 
twenty sovereigns, which I again refused to give. And I was 
told, and believe the report true, that it was subsequently sold 
for fifty sovereigns to one of the most zealous and wealthy of 

the Napoleonites, 

The trial of the scandalous Caroline and Bergami Case was just 
over; and, though I pretend not to know which of them was most 
deeply and most shamefully in fault, the king or the queen, the 
sentiments of the nation (a portion of the most foul and debased 
London rabble excepted) were in favor of the former. 

Shortly after the coronation of lieorge the Fourth, his queen 
died. 1 saw her, in Drury Lane Theatre, on the night in which 
she was attacked by her death-sickness; and her appearance was 
anything but that of a queen, or of any other lady of fashionable 
elegance. To tay taste, she was a coarse and vulgardooking 
dowdy. Though I mean by the remark no shadow of apology 
fbl the loose and licentious conduct of the king, yet, from the 
first glance of my eye on her homely person, and all but actually 



388 AUTOBIOGKAPHY OF 

sluttish dress, I was no longer surprised at his deep-rooted aver- 
sion toward her. To love her, or regard her with the common 
tenderness due to a female companion, was absolutely impossible. 

The play was performed in compliance with her direction — I 
do not say in obedience to her command, for she had no shadow of 
authority ; and so deep toward her was the disrespect of the ladies 
of London, that not one of them attended the performance. She 
and her two maids of honor (Lady Hamilton being one) were the 
only females in the dress boxes of the theatre. But the pit was 
crowded with women of the deepest debasement and profligacy 
that earth can furnish or fancy conceive. All the purlieus of 
prostitution in London appeared to be emptied into it; and the 
immense multitude (the pit being the largest in the world), and 
the revolting purpose for which they had assembled (to support 
their queen in her imputed turpitude and crimes), countenanced 
and encouraged each individual to speak and act in precise har- 
mony with the odious design which had induced them to assemble. 
The scene of indecency was, therefore, unparalleled. At times, 
even the queen herself seemed to turn from it with loathing. 
Before the curtain dropped, she left the theatre indisposed; and a 
few days afterward her death was announced. When she and 
her maids of honor rose to leave the theatre, was the time at 
which the deepest outrage on modesty and decorum was com- 
mitted by the pit. Had I not witnessed it, not only would it have 
been impossible for me to believe in its perpetration, I could not 
have even imagined its existence. 

Whether in compliance with her own request, or for some other 
reason, I know not ; but arrangements were made to convey the 
body of the queen to Brunswick, there to repose with the relics 
of her ancestors. As she died in the West End of London, it 
was necessary for the funeral procession to pass through the city, 
to reach the place of embarkation on the Thames, and to treat 
the royal corpse with as little respect as practicable, it was about 
to be conveyed circuitously along private and not very reputable 
streets. The populace, being apprised of this movement, rose, 
not in arms, according to the usual interpretation of the phrase, 
but provided with stones, brickbats, and bludgeons, opposed the 
progress of the procession, and threatened an attack on the mili- 
tary escort that accompanied it ; and, after a short parley and a 



CnARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 339 

few threatening expressions, some missiles were thrown with such 
effect as to bring several privates to the ground, with severe cuts 
and contusions. In return for this, the soldiers fired (whether 
with blank or ball cartridges I know not), without injury to any 
one. The mob, however, fell back. But, with renovated spirits 
and greatly augmented numbers, they soon halted, and prepared 
for another and more decisive attack. 

The populace, however, succeeded in their object, and com- 
pelled tin; procession to change its route, fall into the Strand, and 
pass immediately by St. Paul's in its way to the place of embarka- 
tion for the Continent. 

But the persecution of the queen was not yet closed. It pur- 
sued her to her grave. She directed in her will, or through some 
other channel, that her epitaph should be the simple but signifi- 
cant inscription: "Caroline of Brunswick, the injured Queen of 
England." But, by a royal mandate, the direction was annulled, 
and some other epitaph, more acceptable to the queen's perse- 
cutors, substituted in its place; or her monument, whatever 
might be it.s form, allowed to be without an epitaph. 



390 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



CHAPTER XIII. 

Set out for Paris — Books — Where found, and why — Cuvier — Dupnytren — Baron 
Larrey — Alibert — Lafayette — Grouchy — Duchesse de P Her courtesies- 
Leave Paris — Frost in June — A French lady — Voyage home — Ship Electra — 
Storm — Lexington school — Proposal to remove it — Reasons — Valedictory — 
Louisville — Propose to erect a school there — Difficulties — Opposition — No 
Faculty — No means of instruction — Honey — A public speech — Judge Rowan — 
James Guthrie — Dr. Flint — Success of the school — Dr. Yandell — Intrigues — 
Chair vacated — How filled — The medical Faculty — Honorary degree offered, and 
refused — Graduating class — Their opinion and action — How the two medical 
schools of Lexington and Louisville were raised up, and how they declined. 

It is the 29th day of April, 1821, and I am still in London, 
but about to set out for Paris, by the way of Dover and Calais. 
Up to this point, as the reader has perceived, I have inter- 
spersed, diversified, and I trust enlivened, my narrative with 
occasional extra anecdotes, designed to be in some respects in- 
structive as well as amusing. And it was my original purpose 
to pursue the same course until the close of the work. 

But considerations not to be disregarded have induced me to 
change it. Of these, the leading one is the avoidance of prolixity, 
which, on the plan in which I have hitherto persisted, would be- 
come excessive. 

Relinquishing from this period, therefore, all that belongs to 
mere fancy or fashion, foreignism, or levity of any description, I 
shall detail as briefly as I can, consistently with clear intelli- 
gibility, not what I saw or heard in the way of pleasure or amuse- 
ment, but what I did, and endeavored to do, in the line of my 
duty. Confident that, aided by the present facilities of locomo- 
tion and communication, there will be no want of travellers and 
loiterers in France and Paris to tell of their sight-seeing and 
enjoyments there, much more attractively than I could mine, I 
shall confine myself to an account of my labors and performances 
in those places, before steam and electricity had succeeded in 
annihilating time and space. 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 391 

My object in visiting Paris, in the spring of 1821, was of no 
common order. It was the accomplishment of a self-projected 
effort and plan to procure the requisite means, in a library, a 
suite ofchemir.il apparatus, and other articles of instruction, for 
the establishment of a distinguished school of medicine in Lex- 
ington, and to enhance, as far as practicable, my own qualifica- 
tions for the direction and government of it. 

In relation to the procurement of a library, my views and 
wishes were turned to the time gone by, as well as the present; 
for I had then, as I still have, a high regard for the history and 
literature, qo leas than for the theory and practice of medicine. 
I was determined, therefore, that, aa far as the scheme might be 
practicable, I would enrich the library with a reasonable propor- 
tion of the writings of both the ancient and mediaeval lathers of 
the profession. And the time of my arrival in Paris was un- 
commonly and unexpectedly propitious to that purpose. 

The ravages and waste-layings of the French Revolution had 
not yet entirely passed away. Toward the close of that eatas- 
trophe, the libraries of many wealthy anil literary persons, bi 
of them professional ami some unprofessional, who had been put 
to death or banished, had been publicly sold, or privately de- 
posited lor sale keeping in the houses of connections and friends. 
Put through whatever channels conveyed, they had ultimately 
found their way to the shelves of booksellers, or into the back 
rooms oi' lumber garrets of their storehouses. And 1 was told 
that they probably contained the very books for which 1 was 
searching. 

No sooner was 1 apprised of the existence and whereabout of 
those little valued, yet at times very precious repositories, than I 
procured permission to make my way into them and ascertain of 
what they consisted. And some of them were richly stored with 
venerable literature. For several weeks they occupied my whole 
attention during the chief part of my business hours. My daily 
habits were as follows: — 

1 rose early, dressed in a common half-worn travelling suit of 
clothes, break lasted immediately, and, thus equipped, passed the 
day in ransacking some bookseller's garret or lumber-room, until 
four or five o'clock in the afternoon. I then returned to my 
hotel, ohanged my working dress for the prevailing costume of 



392 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

the place, dined, and devoted to other portions of my business 
the remainder of the day — and a few of my evening hours to lite- 
rary, scientific, or some lighter and more amusing form of social 
intercourse — or perhaps to witness the wonders of Talma, then 
in the zenith of histrionic glory — or to the performances of some 
other renowned actor or actress, danseuse, cantatrice, or instru- 
mental musician. And by the pursuit of this course not only did 
I improve myself, and form acquaintances and correspondents 
who continued long to be useful and agreeable — but the whole of 
whom I have already outlived — I also found and purchased, at 
reduced prices, no inconsiderable number of the choicest works 
of the fathers of medicine from Hippocrates down to the revival 
of letters — works which in no other way, and perhaps at no 
other time, could have been collected so readily and certainly, 
and on terms so favorable, in either Paris or any other city in 
the world. Hence the marked and decided superiority of the 
Lexington Medical Library, in those works, to any other in the 
West and South, and probably in the whole United States — not 
excepting that of Philadelphia, the parent school of medicine in 
the Union. 

The professional, literary, and scientific characters with whom 
I held intercourse were the professors of the medical schools 
generally, and the superintendents of public institutions, espe- 
cially with Cuvier, Dupuytren, the Baron Larrey, and Alibert. 
The personages to whom I was chiefly indebted for social in- 
tercourse, and numerous introductions to other gentlemen of 
distinction, were the Marquis de Lafayette, his son George 
Washington de Lafayette, the Marquis Marbois, and Marshal 
Grouchy. 

Nor can I, without the heartless guilt of ingratitude, neglect to 
acknowledge my profound obligations for courtesies and favors, 
countless in number and inestimable in value, to the beautiful 
and accomplished Duchesse de P , the daughter of the Mar- 
quis Marbois, and the niece of an American gentleman with 
whom I had been intimate. And toward the close of my sojourn 
in Paris, when my business was nearly finished, and occupied 
comparatively but little of my time, she partly persuaded and 
partly commanded me, in her own way, to attend her as one 
of her suite into several fashionable parties. She frankly and 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 393 

sportively, yet in earnest and not unflatteringly, told me that her 
object in tli is measure was twofold — to exhibit me as a half 
countryman of her own (her mother had been reared and mar- 
ried in Philadelphia) of whom she was proud; and give me a 
greater familiarity than I had yet attained with the high-life 
breeding, manners, and enjoyments of her native city. 

Of tins ladj I can say sincerely what I would be unwilling to 
say of any other I saw in Paris. Though she had full possession 
Bad command, and made often an unsurpassed display of all the 
exterior attributes of the court, she bail the appearance of being 
entirely free from its interior blemishes. If I mistake not, she 
was frankness and sincerity personified. Such at least was the 
only interpretation ofherwhole deportment toward myself. She 
once all but quarrelled with me for the formality and rareness of 
my morning calls, as if they were matters of but ceremony and 
fashion. Sin: said to me, with a feeling and in a manner ap- 

|n bing Bternness and rebuke: "Sir, my wish and expectation 

are to see and welcome you as an intimate and a friend, not as a 
ceremonious, fashionable, and complimentary stranger." And 
when I told her of my design to leave Paris for the United States, 
by way of England, on a given day, she entreated me, if not very 
inconvenient, to postpone my departure for a single day, and 
pass my last evening in the place, in a family party with herself 
and children, and a few blood relations; the duke himself being 
absent. 

As the delay of a day was not very materially inconvenient to 
me, I cheerfully complied with the lady's request, and passed in 
her family circle one of the most pleasant evenings I had enjoyed 
in the place. Our entertainment consisted in familiar conversa- 
tion, music, and a light but exceedingly elegant repast. And 
when, at a late hour, I rose to take leave, having kissed the brows 
of her two daughters, I took the mother's hand, and was, as usual, 
raising it to my lips, she warmly pressed my hand, and affection- 
ately presented her cheek, which I most respectfully kissed, and 
departed, never again to meet her. I have been recently informed 
of her death— an event which leaves but one survivor of all my 
intimate acquaintances in Paris. 

It was now midsummer, and, on my passage to Calais, I wit- 
nessed and felt a meteorological phenomenon, which I deem 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

worthy to be recorded, on account of its startling singularity. 
On one of the advanced nights of June, a frost occurred of such 
severity as to destroy the entire vintage in Picardy, through 
which we travelled — a disaster that had never been previously 
sustained in that region, within the memory of the oldest inhabit- 
ant. I have said that I not only witnessed but also felt it. And 
so I did, in full perfection. At the request of a beautiful little 
French woman, whom I had met on the evening before I left 

Paris, at the family party of the Duchesse de P , and whom 

that lady had recommended to my protection on a visit to Eng- 
land, I took as our passage seat, the cabriolet of the diligence. 
The season being summer, my little compagnon du voyage had 
brought with her no travelling clothes of sufficient warmth for 
the extraordinary and unexpected change of temperature which 
assailed us. I therefore wrapped the lady alone in my travelling 
cloak (the garment not being large enough, small as she was, to 
envelop us both to any advantage), and compelled myself to en- 
counter the frost of the night, with no protection against its se- 
verity other than my light travelling frock-coat. And my suffer- 
ing was actually intense. And so was that of my companion. 
Nor was I able, by any representation or remonstrance, to ame- 
liorate our condition. 

When we reached our first stopping-place, after midnight, the 
lady was actually unable to walk ; and I was not much more 
efficient. However, summoning to my aid all my courage, 
strength, and gallantry, I lifted her from her seat, and carried 
her into an apartment where, fortunately, a fire had just been 
kindled, on account of the singular intemperance of the night. 
I immediately ordered and received some warm and excellent 
coffee, which, united to a blazing fire, soon thawed us both. 
And I had the credit to be able to borrow (on giving security 
that it should be returned the next day), a good blanket, large 
enough to inclose both the lady and myself. And, thus restored 
and equipped, amused and half-pleased at the remembrance of an 
occurrence so ludicrous and harmless, we mounted again our 
lofty vehicle, and pursued our journey in comparative comfort, 
and occasional mirth; for a French woman will laugh at the 
reminiscence of the worst disaster, provided it neither kills, 
mutilates, defaces beauty, nor produces permanent suffering. 



895 

My stay in England was neither long nor marked, nor accom- 
panied by any event worthy of notice. I soon embarked at 
London for the United States, committing myself in the good 
ship Electra, under an able captain and an excellent crew, to the 
Moray Atlantic during the months of August and September, 
the most stormy and perilous season of the year. And my 
voyage fully corresponded in character with the season in its most 
formidable feature* and disastrous effects. Our captain, whose 
twenty-seventh voyage it constituted, pronounced it tbe most 
annoying lie bad ever experienced. Its length was fifty -two days; 
and it exhibited, throughout its whole duration, but little else 
than an unbroken series of head-winds, cross-winds, squalls, 
tempests, and do winds at all. Yet we left the Downs, an 1 Bwept 
past Dover, before a fresh and delightful breeze, on as sunshiny, 
balmy, and charming an evening as the climate of England ever 
affords. Never did Shakspeare's Cliff, on which I fastened my 
eyes and thoughts until it disappeared in the distance, exhibit 

a more brilliant, subli , and glorious appearance. But on the 

next morning, the scene was changed. The weather was foul, 
and the heavens gloomy and threatening. Nor did the condition 
of things fail to become worse and more ominous, until we had 
passed about half the width of the ocean, when we were assailed 
by a furious tempest of three days' continuance, during which 
all the rage and power of the elements of air and water, embodied 
and embattled, appeared to be poured ou our devoted ship. 
Terror and despair, such as I had never previously witnessed or 
fancied, overwhelmed the passengers, who were numerous. The 
screams and sobbings of women were unspeakably distressing ; 
and those of sonic men, more spiritless than women, though con- 
temptible, were frightful. As long as anything remained to be 
done for the safety ^^' the ship, the officers and crew battled 
bravely with the storm. 

That 1 felt most deeply and vividly the danger of the occasion, 
1 do not deny, but, without speaking boastfully, I thank my God 
for having so organized and endowed me as to exempt me, 
throughout my life, from two very troublesome and unenviable 
passions: unmanning fear and vindictive hatred. Asa gift of 
nature, derived from some of my ancestors, both paternal and 
maternal (for which of course I claim no merit), when most 



396 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

endangered I am most collected and calm. And such was my 
condition at the present time. I felt unusually braced and fit for 
action. 

Meantime, the captain ordered below all persons whose presence 
on deck was not indispensable. From that injunction I begged 
to be excused, and asked permission to occupy a station near 
himself, saying : " My good sir, I am neither frightened nor weak- 
ened, and some incident may occur in which I can be useful." 
But he persisted, saying positively and sternly : " Were you to 
attempt to keep the deck, you would be washed overboard and 
drowned, and I should feel distressingly culpable in having 
permitted } T ou to remain here. Let me exercise the authority, 
therefore, that belongs to me in directing you positively to go 
below." I then very reluctantly obeyed his command. 

At length a stupendous wave struck and deeply overwhelmed 
the ship, swept the deck of almost everything except the masts, 
poured down the gangway an immense torrent of water, wash- 
ing overboard the best sailor belonging to the crew, and for a 
time the vessel was unable to emerge from the water that covered 
her. 

By this time the uproar and confusion in the cabin were 
to me intolerable. Ladies and gentlemen dropped on their 
knees in the water which was inundating the floor, and betook 
themselves to prayer. But without listening to their petitions, I 
rushed up the gangway, against the current of water that was 
still pouring in on us, and the first object that arrested my eye, 
on reaching the deck, was a fine sailor just washed overboard, 
who was still clinging to the end of a piece of wrecked timber, 
in the water, while the other end was yet on the bulwark of the 
vessel, but on the verge of slipping off. I immediately seized 
the end of the timber next to me, and called out encouragingly 
to the struggler : " Hold on but a single minute, my good fellow, 
and you shall stand where I am standing." And so he was. 
The captain and others hurried to my assistance, and the sailor 
was instantly on deck. 

On the subsidence of the storm, the condition of the ship was 
examined, when it was found that her worst damage was in her 
rudder, which was so twisted and shattered as to be wholly use- 
less ; and it was ascertained, by experiment, that she could not 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 397 

be guided by a spar, nor by any other substitute that could be 
adopted. This rendered our case almost hopeless, and so utterly 
prostrated the spirits of the captain, that for the course of a whole 
day he abandoned every effort to do anything with the vessel, 
but allow her to float and roll on the face of the still troubled 
ocean. And he even made an arrangement to issue to the pas- 
sengers and crew a reduced amount of water. This diffused 
through every mind among the passengers the very essence of 
consternation and the bitterness of despair. 

The next morning, however, the storm, and consequent tur- 
bulence of the ocean being abated, it was determined to cut away 
the water-lock ; place the rudder on the deck of the ship, and, 
as far as practicable, repair the damages it had sustained. This 
job, though not very difficult, was tedious. But by dinnertime 
of the third day it was complete, and the rudder once more in the 
water at the rear of the ship. As yet, however, it was not in 
its case. Nor, on a strict examination, was it found to be an 
easy performance to put it there. The repairs it had undergone 
had BO far altered the shape and augmented the size of its shank, 
thai in only one position could it be drawn from below into its 
ease. And in that position it was all but impossible to retain it 
for a single moment. The Blighest agitation of the water, which, 
though greatly diminished, had still an existence, acting on its 
tail, changed its attitude and prevented its introduction. 

About two o'clock P. M., our tackle was arranged, the rudder 
properly attached to it and suspended in the water, under the 
inferior opening of its ease, and the most trustworthy and effi- 
cient individuals appointed to the superintendence and execution 
of the different kinds of service to be performed. In this divi- 
sion of duties the captain had the care and command of the tack- 
ling, I was appointed to the inspection of the rudder's exact 
position, commissioned to give the word of command " Heave," 
as soon as the condition of things should authorize the word, and 
the men most capable of prompt and powerful action had charge 
of the pulley-ropes. And we were all at our posts and anxious, 
intensely anxious, for the mature and decisive moment of duty — 
but, trebled in length by disappointed expectancy, and the "sick- 
ness of hope deferred," hour after hour passed on, and that 
moment did uot arrive. And, to augment our anxiety to the verge 



398 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

of the agony of despair, an ominous storm-cloud appeared in the 
horizon, threatening to advance and break on us — and still the 
moment of action delayed, until the cries, sobs, lamentations, 
genuflection and supplicatory appeals to Heaven had become 
nearly as general and distressing on the deck behind me, as I 
had previously witnessed them in the cabin. 

At length, however, the long wished for moment arrived. Tbe 
rudder-sbank assumed the proper attitude, and for an instant was 
motionless. With all the speed and urgency, therefore, I could 
summon to the duty, I uttered the word "heave." And with 
equal quickness every ounce of strength possessed by the rope- 
holders was applied to the task, and the rudder was in its place. 
I did not at the first moment so announce it, lest, by possi- 
bility, I might mistake and disappoint. But, in a second longer, 
I perceived that all was right. Yet, robust and unsubduable by 
mere feeling as I thought my nature to be, I could not in words 
announce the fact. The burst of emotion I experienced rendered 
me as speechless as the rudder I had been watching. I therefore 
simply sprang to my feet, and waved round my head my travel- 
ling cap and handkerchief. And my movement and action were 
welcomed by a preau of joy as loud as had just been the wail of 
distress; and the surface of the water around the ship was in- 
stantly strewed with hats, caps, and handkerchiefs, which, tossed 
into the air, had fallen overboard in consequence of the movement 
of the vessel from beneath them. 

The tempest we had endured was unusually wide in its range. 
The entire coast of the United States, from Maine to Louisiana, it 
had swept and wasted. No sooner had we entered the Chesapeake 
Bay, therefore, than we learned that the Electra (such had been 
the length of her voyage) was generally regarded as a lost ship ; 
and I became desirous and determined, if possible, to be the first 
to inform the Philadelphians, especially my own friends of the 
city, that they were mistaken ; and that the Electra and her 
inmates were still afloat. 

When we had advanced within thirty miles of New Castle, 
therefore, about ten o'clock P. M., though the night was dark, 
and blustering, and chilly, I told our captain that if he would 
accommodate me with a good boat, four able and efficient oarsmen, 
and a steersman, and his letter bag, I would set out immediately, 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 399 

reach New Castle by or before the starting of the earliest steam- 
boat of the place, embark in her, deposit his European letters in 
the Philadelphia post-office, and be the first to announce the 
safety and arrival of the Klectra. 

No sooner said than done. The requisite arrangements being 
instantly made (the rescued and faithful sailor seated, at his own 
request, at the helm of my pinnace), I set out on my enterprise, 
and by great exertion, not altogether without peril, my purpose 
was accomplished. I was the first to herald in person to my 
friends in Philadelphia, that I was still alive, and to inform them 
in words that the Klectra was, safe — and thus to be the converter 
into rejoicing of the distress which the belief of her loss had pro- 
duced. 

Hiving passed a few days in Philadelphia, I set out for the 
West, and arrived in Lexington without the occurrence of any 
event worthy of notice. 

But I am once more, after a busy absence of seven months and 
twenty-eight days, safe in Lexington, the site of Transylvania. 
having brought hone with mo the last remnant of the articles 
purchased by me to mature the medical school for the full dis- 
eharge of its duties of instruction. And in three days more I 
shall commence to an augmented and still augmenting class, my 
third course of lectures. I regard the institution as now definitely 
established beyond the control of casualty or opposition. 

Having dwelt to a sufficient extent on my pioneership of scho- 
lastic and philosophical medicine in my account of the school of 
Lexington, 1 shall now pass bo a scries of remarks on my pre- 
miership in the medical school of Louisville. 

In consideration of the comparatively rapid growth and influ- 
ence of Cincinnati and Louisville, and the very tardy one of 
Lexington, it required but a few years' observation to convince 
me that the latter city was not calculated to be the site of the 
leading medical school of the West. And, on communicating 
my views to Professor Dudley, he concurred with me in opinion. 
Determined, however, that, as it was the primary and parent 
school, it should be continued the leading one as long as prac- 
ticable, 1 devoted faithfully and unceasingly the influence of all 
my labors and resources to that effect And thus did I persevere 



400 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

in my exertions for eighteen years. And the institution flou- 
rished. 

But, under a full conviction that the Lexington school could 
not be maintained much longer in full vigor and prosperity, the 
Faculty came to a secret but express understanding that it would 
transfer itself to Louisville, and administer the school there, as a 
more eligible location. Owing to causes which it would be 
useless to divulge, the scheme of transplanting the Faculty was 
abandoned, while I persevered in my determination to transplant 
myself, and received from some of the authorities of Louisville 
a direct and pressing invitation tQ that purport. Accordingly 
the whole school session of the winter 1836-37 was among the 
Faculty a continued scene of dissatisfaction and contest. With 
those members who had proved faithless to their engagement, 
and resolved to adhere to the Lexington school, I was in open 
conflict in the field, while those who still designed (or so pre- 
tended) to accompany me to Louisville, lay in covert behind me, 
prepared, perhaps, to act as expediency might direct. 

To our class of graduates, which was large and respectable, I 
was appointed to deliver the valedictory address. And I so 
fashioned and conducted it that it was understood by the discern- 
ing to be also my valedictory to the school and the city. In full 
accordance with this state of mind, on the 15th of March, 1837, 
at noon, I delivered my address, and at three o'clock P. M. of 
the same day, set out for Louisville, to enter immediately on the 
duties of the premiership, to which I had been invited, in found- 
ing and establishing the <: Louisville Medical Institute," the name 
by which the contemplated school was to be known. I say 
"contemplated!" for though the Institute had been busily and 
abundantly talked about, for upward of a year, toward its actual 
establishment nothing had hitherto been definitely done; and, 
therefore, a positive beginning was yet to be made. And not only 
were the essential means of medical instruction, and the funds to 
procure them, entirely wanting ; of men competent to employ 
such means to good effect, the same was scarcely short of being 
equally true. Of all the physicians of the place, I knew of but 
one whom I considered fully capable of becoming an able pro- 
fessor. And I well knew, as the experiment subsequently veri- 
fied, that a Faculty consisting of strangers would necessarily have 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 401 

to encounter, in every possible form and stratagem, the implacable 
opposition and enmity of the resident physicians. At first view, 
therefore, the prospect was discouraging. As a teaching and 
commanding Faculty, the Louisville physicians could do nothing. 
They bad already tried the experiment, and utterly failed. And 
toward a Faculty selected from other places, they would do no- 
thing but mischief. Nor was this all, nor perhaps even the worst 
that must occur. 

A new medical school in Louisville, no matter of whom the Fa- 
culty might be formed, or from whence drawn, would be violently 
opposed by the school of Lexington in one quarter, and by those 
of Cincinnati (it had two schools) in another. I do not hesitate, 
therefore, to assert that the array of impediment and hostility, 
without our walls, and in the heart of our fortress, was so massive 
and formidable, that few persons, unless compelled, would have 
deliberately engaged in conflict with it. 

But there arc cases in which caution is worse than rashness. 
And this to me appeared to be one of them. I had accepted an 
invitation, abandoned Lexington, and pledged my word and faith 
to Louisville. And to submit to defeat without astruggle, would 
be pusillanimous and dastardly, and an unmanly forfeiture of 
what T had hitherto achieved; ami that was a consummation of 
evil and mortification not to be endured. Action, therefore, 
prompt and vigorous action, was to be commence 1. 

Meantime, however, another scheme to prevent the erection of 
the contemplated school was concocted and tried. It was believed 
(for what reason, let others inquire) that no leader but myself 
could form a school in Louisville, or would even attempt it, at that 
time, a trial by others having recently, and not very creditably, 
failed. A special deputation, therefore, was dispatched from one 
of the Cincinnati schools, headed by an influential professor, 
empowered to offer me a carfc blanch instrument to be filled up 
by myself, inviting me to a professorship, the title and terms 
being my own. '' Choose your post, and name your conditions, 
but come to our aid, and we will acquiesce." Such was virtually 
the language of the transaction. And such were the case and 
crisis which existed ^presenting to me naught but toil, formidable 
difficulty, inexorable enmity, and probably defeat, mortification, 
and ruiu). Under such circumstances, there is much reason to 
26 



402 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

believe that few persons would have rejected the offer. But 
there are souls of a stamp so enamored of conflict, that, to quote 
the words of Scott's gallant Fitz James, to them — 



-if a path be dangerous known, 



The danger's self is lure alone." 

And of civil contest, this is as true as of contest with the 
sword. And, though I do not say that I rejected the Cincinnati 
proposal, merely because it was calculated to protect me from 
turmoil and difficulty; yet T do say that I preferred my Louis- 
ville compact, with all its concomitants of opposition and enmity, 
toil, and hazard. 

My instinctive answer, therefore, was, that I had affianced 
myself to Louisville, in the enterprise of founding and establish- 
ing a medical school ; and that, while she continued true to her- 
self and her literary, scientific, and professional interests, I would 
not desert her. And thus ended my negotiation with the Cin- 
cinati embassy. I shall only add, not in a spirit of boasting or 
ostentation, but of conscientiousness and truth, that I could, at 
that crisis, have checked (for how many years I pretend not to 
say, but certainly for several years) the establishment of the 
Louisville Medical Institute, and of the University of Louisville, 
which is its offspring, as briefly and easily as I could have dropped 
from my lips the monos}'llable yes, to a proposal earnestly urged 
on me by the Cincinnati school delegation. And I am utterly 
regardless of any cavilling remark that may be made, or contra- 
dictory sentiment conceived respecting my declaration. The 
reason is plain. Should such occurrences take place, they will 
be the foul and despicable product of a homogeneous source. 
But that my situation and prospect, at the time referred to, may 
be fully comprehended and correctly appreciated, I must be more 
full and explicit in my account of things. 

The city of Louisville, in its corporate capacity, had promised 
to endow the Medical Institute with a suitable lot and edifice ; and 
there was reason to believe that, under favorable circumstances, 
it would comply with its promise. But compliance was only 
expected, not executed, and therefore uncertain — not yet per- 
formed, and definitive. But the city had promised nothing more; 
though much more was indispensable to a medical school to fit it 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 403 

for operation and efficiency. A large and well selected library, 
for example, a suite of chemical apparatus, a body of articles suit- 
able for demonstration in lectures on materia medica and obste. 
tries, and articles for anatomical and surgical museums, were all 
essential. Of these indispensable provisions not an article was in 
possession, nor a dollar to procure them. To raise funds for the 
purchase of them, reliance had been placed on private contribu- 
tion. But the mercantile and trading community, through whose 
hands alone money circulated, wire too deeply embarrassed and 
pre scd to part from a dollar, except reciprocally to preserve each 
other's own credit. From that source, therefore, expectation and 
even hope of fun da were utterly extinct. And in the deliberate 
opinion of the most intelligent of the citizens, t!i lastio 

scheme was accounted a failure. And it mu when this disas- 
trous and desperate condition of the enterprise was at its acme, 
that, the delegation from Cincinnati was received by me and dis- 
missed. 

One expedient, however, still remained with me in secret; and 

it arose out of the confide] I held in my own consciousness and 

efficiency <>f action, when tested most severely, and urged to the 
highest pitch by difficulty or danger. And it was the confidence 
in part of solid exponent 

To the late Judge Rowan, and to James Guthrie, Esq., the two 
leading members of the Board of Managers of the Medical In- 
stitute, 1 communicated my scheme. It was, that they should 
call, or cause to be called, a general meeting of the citizens of 
Louisville, introduce me to them (for, to forty-nine of them out 
of every fifty, 1 was, except by name and casual appearance in 
the street, an entire stranger), and allow me to address them on a 
school of medicine, the only mOde and means of its formation, 
and the great benefits it would necessarily confer on the city, if 
established ow sound and well adjusted principles, and judiciously 
administered. 

The proposal was promptly adopted. The citizens met in what 
was then the Radical Meeting-House, which stood on the ground 
now occupied by a portion o{ the Masonic Hall. The meeting 
was large and respectable, Levi Tyler, Esq. in the chair — and I 
addressed it on the subject in question two hours, I doubt not, 
with great earnestness and warmth (for my excitement was in- 



404 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

tense), brought to my task every truthful and propitious argu- 
ment and consideration I could command, and thus delivered 
myself, of course, in my -most energetic, persuasive, and convincing 
style and manner. I depicted, with all the force and attractive- 
ness I could call to my aid, the multiplied and distinguished 
benefits, scholastic and literary, scientific, commercial and social, 
which a school could not fail to bestow on the city. And, as one 
of those benefits, I predicted, without scruple or hesitation, that 
a university, with all its honors and advantages, would be one of 
the results. 

That my address produced on the audience no common impres- 
sion was evinced by their respectful silence and profound atten- 
tion, and other marks of approval, no less expressive, which they 
repeatedly bestowed. 

As the means to carry out the enterprise, I asked for twenty- 
five thousand dollars. And no sooner was there an end of the 
applause, in the midst of which I resumed my seat, than the 
meeting unanimously voted me, on a resolution offered, twenty 
thousand. And now ensued one of the strongest marks of ap- 
proval and compliment that words and action could bestow on 
my address. When the vote was taken, and was by acclamation 
unanimous, Judge Rowan rose and proposed that it should be 
retaken, a few minutes being first allowed for the audience to cool 
and reflect, that each one might be able to say to himself whether 
his vote was the result of calm deliberation and judgment, or of 
the excitement produced by the address they had just heard. The 
proposal was executed, and, with a single exception, the same 
vote was again unanimous. 

Mr. Guthrie, who was then a member of the city council, carried 
the resolution of the citizens recommending the scholastic dona- 
tion to the next meeting of that body, which, with one exception, 
sanctioned it unanimously ; and the Board of Managers of the 
Institute appropriated fifteen hundred dollars of the funds voted 
and now received to the immediate purchase of such articles as 
would be absolutely necessary for the school to possess at the 
commencement of its first session. And the duty of making 
those purchases was assigned to myself. It need hardly be 
observed that, by the measure adopted at the assemblage of the 
citizens in the Eadical Meeting-House, the condition of the school 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 405 

founding enterprise was changed, as by magic, from doubt to 
certainty. 

The next important measure to be considered and adopted was 
the organization of the Medical Faculty, and to fill the chairs. 
To aid them in that duty, the Board of Managers invited me to 
take a seat in their official meeting. At their first meeting the 
professorships of the Faculty were arranged and named, and pro- 
fessors appointed to two — Dr. Miller to that of Obstetrics, and I 
to those of the Institutes of Medicine, Medical Jurisprudence, and 
Clinical Medicine, to the discharge of the numerous, diversified, 
and momentous duties of which I assiduously devoted myself for 
four years. To tin- professorship of Materia Medica, Dr. Yandell 
— to that of the Theory and Practice of Medicine, Dr. Cook, were 
subsequently appointed a) my recommendation; and to the pro- 
fessorship of Chemistry, at the recommendation of Dr. Miller, Dr. 
Mitchell, of Cincinnati. Two professorships, therefore, those of 
Anatomy and Surgery, were unoccupied. And it was believed 
they could not be tilled from any sources in the western country. 
Hence, when 1 was dispatched to the east to purchase the means 
of instruction, I was also charged with the duty of negotiating for 
tin- two professors yet to be appointed. And on that commission 
I travelled in various directions several thousand miles, visiting 
all the cities and principal towns in the eastern States, between 
the southern border of Virginia and the extreme north of New 
Hampshire. In this extensive sphere of research, Dr. Flint, 
then of Boston, was the only individual I found, whom I con- 
sidered capable of becoming a competent public teacher, and who 
was willing to accept one of the chairs, on terms proposed by the 
Board of Managers ; and on my favorable report to the Board, 
he was appointed to the ehair of Surgery. lie was subsequently 
removed by the Board of Managers, not on account of incapa- 
city, but on account of a want of sufficient exertion and self- 
tram tng. 

Dr. Yandell, who had been at an early period transferred to 
the chair of Chemistry in the Medical Institute, had once the 
effrontery to claim an agency in the founding of the Medical 
Institute. I feel bound, therefore, to expose to the odium and 
condemnation it deserves the falsehood and self-conceit of his 
claim. 



406 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

In the first place, it is well known that had he not been pre- 
vented by the management of Professor Dudley, he would have 
deserted me and remained a member of the Faculty of Lexington. 
And when he was compelled to leave that place and the appoint- 
ment he held in it, instead of repairing to Louisville and uniting 
with me in my toils and expedients in founding and establishing 
the Louisville Institute, he retired with his family to his paternal 
farm and mansion, near Murfreesborough, in Tennessee, com- 
muning and debating with himself which he would select, the 
condition and life of a country physician and farmer there, or a 
professorship in the Louisville Medical Institute, the enterprise to 
establish which he was apprehensive would fail. And there, and 
in that undecided state of inind, he remained until long after I 
had vanquished the impediments, and completed the preliminaries 
and fundamental principles of the enterprise, and was already 
scouring the eastern States in search of professors. Most of this 
renegade information was subsequently received by me from his 
own lips, terminating in an assurance that, had it not been for the 
decision of his wife, who refused to reside in a place where her 
children, while small, could not be educated at home under her 
own eye, he would have remained in Tennessee. And he assigned 
as another cause which influenced him, that two respectable and 
judicious friends, William Richardson and David Sayre, of Lex- 
ington, had advised him to adhere to his practice and his farm in 
Tennessee, where he could support his family, rather than engage 
in an enterprise in Louisville, which they were persuaded would 
fail. The first and only primary service he rendered toward the 
establishment of the Institute was on his return to Louisville, a 
month or two after all the leading and essential preliminaries had 
been settled. He was then sent to Cincinnati to negotiate a com- 
pact with Dr. Cobb to accept the professorship of Anatomy, under 
a guarantee for the receipt of three thousand dollars a year for 
three years — by far the most lucrative engagement that professor, 
at the time, had ever held. 

Such were some of my labors, expedients, and practical doings 
in the capacity of premier in the founding and establishing of the 
Medical Institute. But they are far from being the whole amount 
of the extra official services I rendered to that institution. For 
the space of at least six or seven years, I continued to do in per* 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 407 

son all that was requisite to sustain it and promote its prosperity, 
apart from the lectures, examinations, and other more technical 
duties of it performed by my colleagues. I negotiated, for exam- 
ple, its connection with the Louisville Marine Hospital, delivered 
in person nearly all the public popular discourses on select and 
interesting subjects, which drew crowds of citizens to its Hall, 
and conciliated toward it their feelings and regards. I visited 
Europe, at my own expense, and purchased for it, and paid out 
of my own funds, some of the home-bound costs of a thousand 
dollars' worth of additional means of instruction which it needed, 
and I openly defended it in person against the assaults of its 
enemies, and received myself their envenomed shafts, while my 
colleagues lay prudently and safely ensconced in my rear. Nor 
is this nil. Alter my last return from Europe, I superintended in 
person the erection of a clinical amphitheatre, which was greatly 
needed, and paid fur it also out of my own funds, three thousand 
and tliirty-two dollars and fifty cents, of which I have been reim- 
bursed but ttoo-ihirda ; the remainder of my colleagues (seven in 
number) having only repaid me to that amount, and left as my 
portion of the outlay the remaining third— a transaction anything 
but equitable. 

On the subject of professorships, I earnestly recommended the 
two following fundamental rules, which were solemnly adopted, 
but have since been improperly violated : — 

1. Never to offer a professorship to an individual until it 
should be known that he will accept it. And, 
• 2. That every professor should be a resident citizen of Louis- 
ville. Professional peripateticism, where it can possibly be 
avoided, is a disreputable characteristic 

Such are some of the benefits which I conferred on the Medical 
Institute; and I defy enmity and malice to make it appear that 
I ever injured it by action or word. I shall now, therefore, state, 
with equal frankness and truth, the unworthy and unprincipled 
recompense 1 have received from it (I mean from some of its 
members), especially after it had been changed into the medical 
department of the University of Louisville. 

Dr. Lunsfbrd P Yandell, whose early benefactor I had been, 
and whose firm friend I had continued to be, foully and mali- 
ciously slandered me for his own pecuniary profit and benefit, 



408 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

while he insidiously still professed, in words, and pretended at 
times in action, to be my friend — and was therefore ungrateful 
and perfidious as well as malicious. This course, I have said, he 
pursued for his "pecuniary profit." And such was the fact. He 
was intriguing for my professorship, with which he was better 
pleased than with his own. Yet does he not possess a single 
qualification for teaching either the profound or elevated and 
distinguished principles and characteristics of it. For he is, pro- 
verbially, common-place and superficial in all his remarks, never 
giving birth and utterance to an original thought. He is a mere 
parasite, depending on his remembrance of what he has read and 
heard for everything he says. 

"With regard to all the higher and nobler qualities of mind, 
this is a perfectly correct delineation of Dr. Yandell's character. 
But as respects qualities of a lower and less reputable order, the 
very reverse is true. In cunning, stratagem, and all forms of 
duplicity and deceptiveness, he is at home, and an adept in the 
practice of them. For this there are two substantial reasons. 
He is organized in adaptation to them, and the exercise and cul- 
tivation of them have constituted a leading share of the business 
of his life. 

Nor has he ever shown a greater power and adroitness in them 
than in his scheme to remove me from my professorship, and to 
procure his own elevation to it. I say " elevation" — for it is the 
highest, because the most philosophical station in the medical 
profession. It is therefore the office for which Dr. Yandell is 
most signally unfit. 

Nor am I the only person who thus believes and thus declares. 
Every competent judge who knows him pronounces unhesitatingly 
the same opinion. To this the entire body of his colleagues is 
no exception. They manifested the belief unanimously, at the 
time of his appointment. Not a man of them, however, had either 
the justice or magnanimity to oppose his successful intrigue 
against myself. Those of them who did not covertly aid him, 
remained silent and passive spectators of his nefarious proceeding. 
The names of these faithful colleagues and trustworthy friends 
deserve to be recorded: they were Lunsford Pitts Yandell, 
Henry Miller, Samuel D. Gross, Charles Short, Jedediah Cobb, 
and Daniel Drake: the latter, a gentleman very highly and 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 400 

justly distinguished for his powers of mind and useful attain- 
ments ; and unfortunately, not less so for his propensity to 
strategy and intrigue, which marred his usefulness and darkened 
his fame. 

Into the cause of my colleagues' hostility to myself, I have 
never condescended to inquire. By others, however, it has been 
attributed to such petty jealousy and puerile malice as I find it 
difficult to believe could actuate the minds and influence the 
conduct of men with whom I had been for years associated both 
in council and action.* 

But to return to the transfer of Dr. Yandell to my now vacated 
chair. The facts of that extraordinary and disgraceful trans- 
action are as follows: But first let it be stated and distinctly 
understood, that the majority of the trustees were either deceived 
by him, united with him in his nefarious intrigue, and sanctioned 
it, else it could not have been carried into effect. They are to be 
regarded therefore uparticipea eriminia. 

Winn (lie Board of Trustees had vacated my chair, by my 
removal, they requested the Medical Faculty to recommend a 
suitable successor, expecting and believing that they would re- 
commend Dr. Yandell. That the Btlbject might be duly consid- 
ered the Faculty held a meeting, winch, from mock-modesty, Dr. 
Yandell did not attend. And his colleagues, convinced of his 
Unfitness for the chair, and persuaded that he would forever re- 
main so, declined to recommend him. Alarmed and mortified at 
this, ho prevailed on them to call another meeting, which, dis- 
missing his exterior of modesty, he eagerly attended, to plead in 
person his own cause, and convince his colleagues that he was 
amply qualified for the station he sought. And he is reported 
to have not only argued the case with words, but implored and 
solemnised it, even pleaded it with tears. But all to no purpose, 
llis colleagues persisted in their refusal to recommend him, assur- 
ing him that his utter unfitness, and their positive persuasion that 
ho never would or could be otherwise, was the cause. 

* It was currently believed that the Medical Faculty had the weakness to sacri- 
fice their colleague to their mortification, because in sundry publications, put 
forth, at different times, bv the enemies of the Faculty and the school) he had been 
called the Hotspur, the Grand Lama, and the Gullher among the Lillipuliam of the 
school. — Ed. 



410 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

At the first two meetings all the members of the Faculty beside 
Dr. Yandell were not present. One was absent at his country- 
residence, a few miles from Louisville, over whom the discomfited 
candidate believed he had more influence than over the others. 
For him, therefore, a messenger was dispatched, and his attendance 
at the third meeting procured. But, like his recusant colleagues, 
the summoned member also refused to recommend. All was 
therefore lost labor, and augmented his disappointment and mor- 
tification. The refusal was now complete — and the Faculty 
adjourned. But Dr. Yandell, though thus far defeated, mortified, 
and somewhat discouraged, was not utterly discomfited. The 
reason is plain. He had not yet completely tried the strength 
and efficacy of his master organs, combined and adjusted — those 
I mean of duplicity and intrigue. That combination still re- 
mained to be brought into play. And when thus employed, it 
succeeded — and the doctor was elevated to the chair. 

The special mental legerdemain which he employed to influence 
the Board of Trustees, I pretend not to know. But I know 
what was reported by those who professed to be versed in the 
secret. And the report I refer to (not a formal and official 
report, but the current news of the day) was to the following 
purport : — 

The last meeting of the Medical Faculty was held on a Satur- 
day afternoon ; the Board of Trustees being in session at the 
same time. 

When the Faculty had finished their unavailing conference- 
respecting a candidate for my vacant chair, they separated under 
the expression of a belief, fully concurred in by Dr. Yandell, that 
the Board of Trustees would not appoint an incumbent to the 
chair until Monday or Tuesday of the following week. 

No sooner, however, had the Faculty risen and dispersed, each 
member to his own employment, than Dr. Yandell repaired im- 
mediately to the Board of Trustees, still in session, and concealing 
from them the refusal of his colleagues to recommend him to the 
vacant chair, and also their belief and expectation, in which he 
had concurred, that no appointment of a professor would be made 
by the Board before the following week — concealing all this im- 
portant information, he resigned the chair of Chemistry, which 
till then he had held, and, by a partial vote, in a Board which I 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 411 

believe (but am not certain) was also partial, he was transferred 
to the chair of the Institutes of Medicine, for which, in talents 
and education, he is, as already stated, and generally acknow- 
ledged, so utterly unqualified. 

Such was the report respecting the appointment of Dr. Yandell 
to the professorship of the Institutes of Medicine, at the time it 
was made. And though I do not positively avouch it, I verily 
believe it to be substantially true. And I shall only add that, if 
true, it is the most flagitious transaction of the sort that disgraces 
the history of schools of medicine. 

But with the Board of Trustees I have not yet entirely closed 
my account. Nor do I mean to neglect or remit the smallest 
fragment of it. Their equally unwise and unjust conduct in 
dismissing me from the medical school, 1 shall detail with suffi- 
cient fulness ; and, were this not intended to be a posthumous 
work, I would fearlessly dare anyone or more of them to gainsay, 
under his or their proper name or names, a fact I shall state — or 
to controvert an opinion I shall directly advance. 

I was the real premier and publicly acknowledged founder, 
rearer, and director of the Medieal Institute until its complete 
establishment, and for at least five years afterward, when my 
ruling services were partially discontinued, because they had 
become less necessary than at an earlier period. 

In consideration of the benefits I had thus conferred on the 
school, I had as good a natural right to be a participant of the 
■profits of it, while fully competent to the discharge of my official 
duties in it, as I have to the enjoyment of the profits of the lot 
of ground 1 have purchased, and the house I have erected on it. 
And it would be an act of as arbitrary and tyrannical injustice, 
forcibly and without compensation, to deprive me of the one as of 
the other. In opposition to the correctness of this sentiment, no 
enlightened and conscientious individual will be willing to dis- 
grace himself by exercising cither his pen or his tongue. And 
none can do so without incurring both the stain of dishonor and 
the opprobrium of disgrace. Were an unofficial man or bod}' of 
men thus forcibly to deprive other persons of their property, the 
act would be pronounced felonious robbery. And when officers 
commissioned for Other purposes, but armed with no special au- 
thority for such action, notwithstanding perpetrate it, what else 



412 AUTOBIOGKAPHY OF 

t 

can it be called, or in what respect is it better than legalized rob- 
bery — robbery unrighteously protected by law? But, be the 
name and nature of the act what they may, it was committed by 
the Board of Trustees of the University of Louisville, in their 
causeless and arbitrary dismissal of me from the post of honor, 
repose, and independent support I had myself prepared for my 
family and myself, in the evening of my life. True, for the 
worst they could do toward myself in person, I held them in 
immitigable defiance and scorn. But the wrong and outrage 
committed against my family, that relied on me, and was identi- 
fied with myself in the issue, struck home with inhuman and 
irremediable disaster. 

So heavy had been my losses, and so extensive my outlays, at 
home and abroad, in behalf of western medicine, that the income 
of my estate was insufficient for the subsistence of my family, as 
it had been accustomed, and was entitled to subsist. And of that 
fact the Board of Trustees were fully apprised when they perpe- 
trated the outrage, for I had myself assured them of it. 

But the whole proceeding of the Board of Trustees in the 
transaction was so extraordinary and unprecedented, that, if not 
specially described, it can never be understood. The following is, 
therefore, asserted to be a correct delineation of it — a delineation 
none of them will contradict. 

About the close of the year 1846, or the beginning of 1847, 1 
formed, for reasons and on a prospective condition of things 
which were satisfactory to me, a resolution to retire from public 
and official business, and devote my time exclusively to a private 
work (designed to be posthumous) in which I was engaged. And 
the date of my retirement I fixed at March, 1850. To a few of 
the leading members of the Board of Trustees I mentioned my 
purpose, and was express as to the time of its accomplishment. 
It met with their entire approbation, and was carried to such an 
extent, that I considered the arrangement definitely settled, and 
adjusted my plans in conformity to it. Though no instrument of 
writing was executed on the occasion, yet did I consider the 
transaction as an irrevocable compact — regarded it of course as 
mutually binding, and troubled myself no further about it. Nor 
could anything have surprised me more, or appeared to me 
more incredible than a report, whispered at first half audibly and 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 413 

half inaudibly, during the winter of 1848-49, that I was 'to 
be positively removed from my chair at the end of that session. 
Though I believed and pronounced the rumor (for such I con- 
sidered it, because I thought my compact was with honorable and 
trustworthy men) utterly groundless, yet did I deem it prudent 
to become vigilant and make the requisite inquiry. And when I 
discovered the deception which had been practised on me by a 
body of men who still claimed character and standing in the 
community, "and had that claim allowed," when I discovered 
this, I felt it impossible to prevent the emotion of intense sur- 
prise, which 1 first experienced, from changing to deep and 
burning indignation. And the change was both natural and 
justifiable. An effort, therefore, to prevent or even moderate it 
Would have been unmanly weakness. Nor did 1 practise hypo- 
critical concealment of either feeling or thought, but openly 
gave utterance to the emotions I felt. 

As the bluw meditated by the Board threatened me with a 
serious disaster, I resolved to try first what effect fair and manly, 
but not criminating reason and remonstrance might produce in a 
■ i e fraught with principles and feelings so utterly at war with 
common justice. I therefore calmj bul firmly urged my compact. 
But I soon perceived that I urged it on adamant. Some of the 
gentlemen did not deny either the existence of the compact 
or the terms of it. They remembered and acknowledged both. 
But they denied its being obligatory on them — because, as 1 have 
reason to presume (though they did not unwarily compromit 
themselves by Baying so\ it had not been committed to writing, 
nor conclusively authenticated by any other sort of legal testi- 
mony. 

I then demanded of them a concoure, or French medical court 
of competition, in which, should I fail to acquit myself at least as 
well as any other professor of any branch in their school, I would 
forthwith resign my professorship. But this challenge, I was 
confident, would not be accepted; because I was convinced that 
no one would hazard himself in the concours as my competitor, I 
being privileged to reciprocate with him the test of examination. 

1 now adopted with my persecutors (for such they had practi- 
cally, though not in words, avowed themselves), that is, with such 
of them as I could occasionally meet (for they never permitted 



414 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

me to meet them in an official body), the following course — I 
being the interrogator, and they the respondents : — 

"Have I ever neglected my duty as a teacher?" 

"Never, sir." 

" Have I ever slighted my duty as such?" 

" Never, sir." 

" Has my being a member of the school ever prevented a single 
pupil from resorting to it?" 

"No, sir; and, as far as my information extends, no such charge 
has ever been alleged against you. You are believed to have 
drawn many more pupils to it than anybody else." 

. "Has my being a member of the school ever driven a pupil 
from it, who had come to it with a design to attend a course of 
lectures ?" 

" No charge of the sort has ever been preferred against you, 
sir." 

" Are my manners disagreeable to the pupils ?" 

"No, sir; your manners are more courteous and agreeable 
than those of any other professor." 

" Are the graduates dissatisfied at my name being attached to 
their diplomas ?" 

"No, sir; many of them would not exchange it for the names 
of all the other professors." 

" If, then, I am exempt from all these faults and accusations, 
and if my standing in the estimation of the pupils generally, and 
especially of the graduates, is so elevated, pray what are the 
charges preferred against me by the Board of Trustees, on account 
of which I am to be deprived of my professorship ?" 

" Why, sir, you are thought to be too old." 

"Am I considered so deeply superannuated, and shattered by 
age, in mind and body, or either of them, as to be absolutely in- 
capacitated to teach ?" 

"Why, no, sir; but the trustees and some of the citizens of 
Louisville think you too old." 

"Have either the citizens or trustees, who think me too old, 
heard recently any of my didactic lectures?" 

They had never, as I well knew, heard even one of them. 

" No, sir; I believe not; but they are told that you have failed 
very much in your lectures." 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 415 

" From whom Lave they heard that?" 

No answer, except by the manner of evasion ; or " I don't 
know." And both the silence and reply I construed into " Dr. 

Yandell and Dr. told us so." 

To put the trustees as disgracefully in the wrong as possible, 
in all their subterfuges, even to this contemptible shuffle, I con- 
descended to furnish a serious and unanswerable reply. This 
I did by referring them to the history of schools of medicine 
(of which 1 found them utterly ignorant), and presented to 
them the cases of Professors Blumenbaeh, Cullen, Hoffman, and 
others, who, at an age considerably more advanced than mine, 
had lectured acceptably, even popularly, to some of the largest 
classes in Europe. Tins, for a lew days, closed the intercourse 
with the trustees. 

And, though I do not offer the preceding representation as a 
copy of the expressions which passed between certain members 
of the Board and myself, vel I do offer i1 as an account, substan- 
tially correct, of the conferences we held respecting my chair, 
and my instructions delivered from it in the medical department 
of the University of Louisville. 

At length, 1 received from the trustees a resolution of my 
dismissal from my professorship, borne and delivered by a dele- 
gation commissioned to offer me what was denominated an hono- 
rary degree, the title of the degree not specified, but presumed by 
me to be emeritus professor. No matter, however, for the title. 
My reply was prompt, and proud, and tnu : and to the following 
purport. 

That the Board of Trustees had nothing to confer which, to 
me, could be honorary; that not only was I the founder and con- 
structor of my own honors, but that 1 was also virtually the 
author of all the academical honors possessed by them. For, had 
I not been the principal, if not the only efficient agent in reor- 
ganizing and putting into operation the Medical Institute, out of 
which had grown, in verification of my own express prediction, 
the University of Louisville, that institution, with all the acade- 
mical powers and honors now borne by its trustees, and which 
they have so abused and desecrated, would not have had an 
existence, 

I expressed a hope, therefore, that the Board would, in time to 



416 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

come, be more vigilant and circumspect, judicious and careful of 
its own honors, and of them alone, for that mine neither coveted 
nor needed addition or conservation, nor, even if they did, would I 
deign to accept from them a tittle of either. And, without further 
parlance, the delegation took leave.* 

* Toward the close of the session of 1848-49, a rumor had reached the class 
that the chair held by Dr. Caldwell was about to be vacated. A meeting of the 
young men was called, and the result was the following preamble and resolutions: — 

"Louisville, March 6, 1849. 
"We, the undersigned, members of the graduated class of the Medical Depart- 
ment, University of Louisville, for session 1848 and '49, unanimously adopt the 
following preamble and resolutions: — 

" Whereas, we have attended the lectures of our venerable Professor of the In- 
stitutes of Medicine for two sessions ; and whereas, in all human probability, he 
will not continue many years longer to hold his place in the University, which we 
are proud to cherish as our alma mater ; therefore — 

"Resolved, 1st. That we feel it to be our privilege, and take great pleasure in 
expressing our high regard for him, as a man of profound learning, and one of the 
ablest advocates and most efficient teachers of the medical profession. 

"Resolved, 2d. That his lectures on all the subjects, pertaining to his chair, have 
been able, thorough, and instructive ; and that the imputation, therefore, that he 
is superannuated, or that his lectures are, in any way, inferior to those of the other 
professors, is unjust, unfounded, and false. 

"Resolved, 3d. That, in consideration of the deep interest he has always mani- 
fested in our advancement in the study of the philosophy of medicine, and his 
untiring efforts to promote the same, we deeply regret the prospect of his vacating 
his chair, which he has so long and so ably filled ; and for his courteous and affable 
manners to us as pupils, and all the kind attentions we have received from his 
hands, we tender to him the grateful thanks of his affectionate pupils and humble 
servants. 

"Signed in behalf of the class by 

W. W. McComas, 
J. Rodman, 
T. L. Madden." 

[Note by Editor. 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 417 



CHAPTER XIV. 

Bare written on too many subjects — Authorship — Yellow fever — Dr. Rush at length 
convinced of its non-contagion — Plague — A French writer on it — Prison dis- 
cipline. 

To bring my autobiography completely to the present date 
(1852), it now remains that I give some account of my writings 
and publications. And of my whole biographical enterprise, I 
need hardly say, this is the most critical and difficult portion. 
The reason is plain. Comparatively speaking, the account of 
what a man has done constitutes the exterior or shell and grosser 
part of his autobiography, while what he has thought, fancied, 
and felt, consists of the interior or nucleus, and is of an order 
more elevated, and a character more refined. And with these 
attributes the narrative is expected to correspond. But a coi 
pondeaoe in matter and substance alone is not sufficient (the st vi- 
and manner continuing the same with that of the narrative detail- 
ing action). And in accordance with this view of the subject will 
be the composition of that branch of my biography in which I 
am now about to engage. 

Though I do not hesitate to believe that I have employed my 
pes to a greater extent, on a greater number and diversity of 
subjects, and perhaps on subjects of a higher and more recondite 
order than any other medical author in America, yet am I per- 
fectly aware, and have often so expressed myself, that I am not 
what the world calls a discreet, judicious, and practical writer. 
In a special manner and an unusual degree, I have not been true 
to my own present reputation and standing, however it may be 
with me on those points in time to come. I have written too 
many small works, chiefly on some controverted principle or 
anticipated belief, or presumption, and not even a single large 
business work on admitted popular and every-day ground. In 
other and perhaps plainer terms, I have not furnished the world 
with royal octavos, containing each eight or nine hundred pages, 
27 



418 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

replete with matter and direction for the use and assistance of 
mere working professionalists, who, with their pills, potions, and 
other formulae, do the medical drudgery of the world, and dis- 
pense with their vocal organs the chief portion of its medical 
renown. Nor, by these remarks, do I mean to speak disrespect- 
fully of the " million" who are actually the stay and " salt of the 
earth," without whose labor it could never either professionally or 
otherwise prosper. I only mean that for reasons which to myself 
were satisfactory, and to the " million" not satisfactory, but pro- 
bably the reverse, I made no special effort by blandishment, false 
pretension, an accommodating spirit, or any other means, to gain 
their favor, admiration, or applause. For I solemnly declare 
that, since the maturity of my sentiments of right and wrong, I 
have no recollection of having ever made a serious and formal 
attempt to attain public favor, except by the discharge of what I 
conscientiously believed to participate more or less of solid 
beneficence and moral duty. For I confess myself unable to 
draw a satisfactory line of demarcation between the higher social 
duties, and what are denominated the minor morals. Nor do I 
know of a definite distinction having ever been drawn by any 
other person ; not excepting even Cicero or Seneca, who wrote 
expressly on that subject. 

It is strict truth in me then to acknowledge that I have never 
been a general and popular favorite. And it is but -frank to 
admit that there exist two natural, and, therefore, strong reasons 
why I have not been. And these are the following : — 

1. The masses are attracted by appearance and manners alone ; 
because they are neither able nor have an opportunity to pene- 
trate and judge of anything but exteriors, in which appearance 
and manner consist. And my general appearance and deport- 
ment, though not perhaps altogether unattractive, are uncon- 
ciliating to them. Hence, though far I trust from being actually 
offensive to them, I am equally remote from being a favorite. I 
am willing, however, to flatter myself, that more thought and 
penetration, and suitable opportunities for exercising them on me, 
would render them, if not more attached to me, at least less un- 
willing to approach me, from a belief which has prevailed that I 
am repulsively stern and haughty. 

2. But there exists another class of individuals who are, from a 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 419 

very dissimilar cause, not merely unattached, but actually hostile 
to me. They are the conservators of the world as it is — beings 
iu human form, who are desirous to prohibit all novelty, and of 
course all amendment in man, manners, morals, taste, intelligence, 
customs, pursuits, education, and even in personal costume and 
habit, Why is this class opposed to human amendment? The 
reason is palpable. Such amendment takes from them both caste 
and influence, because they do not amend themselves. While all 
things around them are progressive, bright, and beautiful, they 
are stationary and mouldy, or rough and rusty. 

These self-created literati and scientijici (if I may coin a name 
for them) of the day have been hostile to me through life, for a 
reason identical with that which has excited sentiments similarly 
inimical, accompanied by opposition, denunciation, and persecu- 
tion, against some of the most illustrious personages the world 
has produced (all of them celebrated improvers of knowledge, 
and in other respects pre-eminent benefactors of man). Of these, 
may be specially named, because they were specially signalized 
fjy their performances, Galileo, Leibnitz, Newton, Harvey, Syden- 
ham, Franklin, ami Uall. 

Doos any one ask me, in a gaze and start of wonderment, 
whether 1 compare and associate myself with those world-re- 
nowned lights in science, and unmatched leaders in their bene- 
factions to their race ? "I do," without a blush, or the slightest 
consciousness of a boast iu having so expressed myself. But I 
do nut associate mvself with them in greatness and glory — but in 
the fate that has befallen me for what I have done. 

Iu my protracted and very diversified series of conflicts and 
discussions, 1 have been unusually fortunate, especially consider- 
ing the immense amount of exertion, rancor, and chicanery, that 
was arrayed against me with the utmost fellness of design — and 
further, considering that 1 always fought against "fearful odds." 
For, I being, in the beginning, almost always alone, and my an- 
tagonists deserving to be called legion, because they were many, 
I can say, with equal pride and truth, that, throughout the entire 
duration of the malign and unsparing warfare I was thus forced 
to sustain, I suffered not a single defeat. 

Every practical enterprise iu which I seriously and heartily 
engaged, terminated in my success. Every opinion and doctrine 



420 ATJTOBIOGKAPHY OF 

deemed erroneous by me, which I resolutely and determinately 
assailed, was prostrated or so enfeebled as to fall into disrepute, 
and be finally nullified. And every sentiment or position I ear- 
nestly supported with all my resources, was ultimately established. 
In proof of each of these statements, conclusive testimony is some- 
where recorded, and could be in substance adduced. 

I have already said that I commenced my authorship, as a 
medical writer, in the city of Philadelphia, in the year 1793. 
More accurately, the commencement was made at some point of 
time during the winter of 1793-4, when I was a student of medi- 
cine, in attendance on my second course of lectures in the medical 
department of the University of Pennsylvania. And one of the 
first and most important subjects I undertook to discuss and elu- 
cidate, was the Origin and Causes of Yellow Fever, a pestilential 
disease, which, in the summer and autumn of 1793, had first 
visited Philadelphia with unprecedented calamity — converting it 
into one wide appalling scene of death, desolation, and mourning. 

The question at issue was justly deemed an important one, on 
whose correct decision, and the efficacy of the measures respecting 
it subsequently adopted and pursued, it was generally and con- 
fidently believed would depend, not only the prosperity and wel- 
fare of the city at the then existing time, but no small share of its 
destiny for all time to come. 

This portentous condition of things was the joint result of 
sundry agencies powerful in their influence, of which the follow- 
ing are some of the leading ones: — 

The opinion, maintained chiefly by Dr. Rush and his imme- 
diate followers, was that the disease originated from the filth of 
the city, and, when thus produced, was propagated by contagion, 
and that it was therefore essentially different from common bilious 
fever, not only in degree, but also in kind. And for that doctrine 
he strenuously contended, in his lectures and publications, for I 
know not exactly how long, but for upwards, I think, of ten 
years. 

Another opinion was, that yellow fever is only a higher grade 
of common autumnal fever, and arises therefore from the same 
causes, and is subject to the same laws. Or, that if it be, in some 
shades of modification, different (as most probably, it is), it not- 
withstanding arises, like it, from a higher and more deleterious 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 421 

form or modification of what was then called marsh miasmata, and 
is not contagious. 

That was the opinion defended by myself. And, as far as I 
knew at the time, or yet know, I was among the first to frame, 
defend, and endeavor to prove and propagate it in Philadelphia 
and elsewhere. I certainly derived it from no one. I found it 
out by observation and reflection on what I witnessed in the yel- 
low fever hospital, established a few miles from Philadelphia, in 
the unmalariouB atmosphere of the country. I perceived that 
neither myself, nor any other person exposed only to the atmo- 
sphere of that institution (inspiring it, and being constantly in- 
volved in it both by night and day, whether eating, sleeping, or 
otherwise employed), was attacked by the complaint, provided he 
kept strictly aloof from the atmosphere of Philadelphia; but that 
if he exposed himself to that atmosphere, especially during the 
night, he almost certainly contracted it, however carefully remote 
he held himself from the wards of the hospital. 

In that confined spot commenced my first observations on the 
subject. Hut they subsequently extended over a much wider 
field, and still communicated to mo invariably the same result. 
An atmosphere Buroharged only with the exhalation from patients 
laboring under yellow fever, but free from common malaria, pro- 
duced QO pestilential disease; while the atmosphere of the city in 
which yellow lever prevailed, though no person was sick in the 
immediate neighborhood, engendered it. 

Ami during seven terms of the epidemic prevalence of yellow 
fever, through which I passed in Philadelphia, the same was true. 
The disease was the result of breathing, swallowing, and being 
otherwise in contact with a malarious atmosphere, not of exposure 
to diseased individuals. Such evidence on the subject I regard 
as conclusive, and have always so employed it. Nor could Dr. 
Push resist it; though he strenuously exerted himself to annul 
my belief in it, and induce me to become the advocate of his hypo- 
thesis. But I was fortunate enough so far to reverse the condi- 
tion of mind he endeavored to produce between us, as to make 
him the advocate oi' my opinion, instead of being myself persuaded 
into the advocacy of his. And that was far from being a common 
event. For though Dr. Rush was noted for changing his notions 
and theories himself, he was said never to have previously changed 



422 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

even one of them, in concession to the mental influence of an op- 
ponent. 

Though Dr. Eush ministered to an error of magnitude and mis- 
chief, in attempting to establish and propagate the notion that 
yellow fever is a contagious complaint, he ministered at the same 
time to an important truth, in pronouncing it the product of the 
filth allowed to lie and ripen into poison beneath the action of the 
summer and autumnal sun. The introduction into the city of a 
regular and efficient system of cleanliness could alone prevent that 
evil ; and such a system could be established and maintained only 
by an abundant and uninterrupted supply of water. From what 
source was that supply to be derived? The answer was plain, 
from the Schuylkill. 

The next medical subject, therefore (for such it must be con- 
sidered), was the usefulness and necessity of constructing a system 
of waterworks to conduct into Philadelphia, from the river Schuyl- 
kill, a body of water skilfully directed and applied, and sufficient 
in quantity to wash away all filth from the streets, alleys, wharves, 
and elsewhere, for the prevention of sickness, to extinguish fires, and 
to subserve other requisite purposes. And by those who are now 
in the full enjoyment of the priceless pleasure and advantages of 
the great performance, it will be hardily credible that the enter- 
prise was at first most violently opposed. And the reason of the 
opposition was more extraordinary, ridiculous, and condemnable 
than the opposition itself. It was because cleanliness would be 
virtually acknowledged by it to be considered a preventive of 
yellow fever, and of course the influence of city filth the cause. 
For, strange and hardly believable as it must now appear to all 
reasonable men, it is notwithstanding true, that many persons 
would (such was the amount of their infatuation and folly) have 
willingly run the risk of a recurrence of yellow fever, rather than 
prevent it by a measure recognizing foul streets, alleys, gutters, 
wharves, and yards, to be the leading causes of it. 

As far as my remembrance now serves me, the only persons 
who, at the commencement of the controversy, spoke or wrote in 
favor of the introduction of the Schuylkill water extensively into 
Philadelphia, were Dr. Rush, Dr. Physick, and myself. And Dr. 
Physick never once moved his pen on the subject, nor even 
spoke of it, except his opinion was asked; and even then he 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 423 

never employed more words than were absolutely necessary to 
make himself clearly and certainly understood. But those 
words, though always few, were at times very forcible, and uni- 
formly influential. 

The doctor, though in some respects a great man, was in others 
a very singular one; he rarely, if ever, strove to argue his fellow- 
citizens, or even his pupils, either into or out of any opinion or 
belief. lie simply told them, in as few and plain words as he 
couM, that the point in question cither was or was not in his 
judgment correct or incorrect, good or bad, right or wrong, 
according to circumstances; and thus the matter rested. For 
his mere word was tlic only proof or disproof he troubled him- 
Self to offer. His belief alone was in this way known, but rarely 
if at all the reason of it. 

In behalf of tlie enterprise now under consideration, Dr. Rush 
conversed and lectured, and occasionally wrote, but the latter to 
no great extent or effect. I conversed much, often debated in 
suitable places, and wrote much more extensively than he did. 
My productions were mostly published and widely diffused by 
the newspapers of the time ; a few of them appeared in pamphlet 
form, and one of them makes a paper of ten or twelve pages, 
in a volume of my Physical jfemoira of about three hundred 
pages, and is still extant. But I regret that, through a faulty 
sibyllian carelessness with regard to papers, which has clung to 
me since my boyhood as a most troublesome and wasteful attri- 
bute of my nature, nearly all of them have forever disappeared. 
But their effects still exist to some extent, and will not, I trust and 
believe, cease to exist till man shall cease to build large cities, 
and commerce to make an important portion of the business of 
the human family. For though I had never the slightest concern 
in the practical transactions of commerce, yet did I for no incon- 
siderable series of years labor very strenuously for the promo- 
tion of its interests, by aiding, through the agency of cleanliness, 
in the mitigation of all, and the extinction of some of the restric- 
tions of quarantine, which curtailed its profits to an amount 
incalculable. This I did by endeavoring, and in no small degree 
succeeding, to extinguish the long established but erroneous 
belief in the contagious nature of malarious diseaWs. Nor did I 
confine my observations to yellow fever and other American 



424 Autobiography op 

forms of disease. To the surprise of every one, and the deep 
exception and opposition of not a few, I embraced in them 
oriental plague itself. In February, 1801, 1 delivered, by appoint- 
ment, the annual address to the Philadelphia Medical Society, 
and the subject of it was, the analogies between plague and 
yellow fever. As one of the bold and even dangerous medical 
records of the time, the address was printed, and frequently 
afterwards debated in the medical society of the place, myself 
being its only advocate and defender. Dr. Kush deemed it the 
repository of a creed so uncanonical and heterodox in medicine, 
that he earnestly warned me that it would prove injurious to my 
reputation as a writer. But the only effect of such opposition and 
warning was to render me more zealous and firm in its defence; 
because I verily believed it to be a truth, from the sustenance of 
which no danger or other consideration should induce me to 
swerve. I deemed it, moreover, an original truth, first discovered 
and divulged by myself, and was therefore proud of it. But I 
subsequently found that the same belief had been broached and 
warmly defended by a French writer in 1720, when the plague 
had prevailed in the city of Marseilles. Nor did my efforts to 
relieve commerce from the evils of quarantine terminate here. 
That I might be as thoroughly as practicable informed of the 
first establishment, history, and effects of the institution of 
quarantine, I studied the Italian language, in which those things 
were first recorded but never translated, and delivered another 
address in like manner by appointment, from the information 
thus collected, which was also printed and extensively circulated. 

Nor have I yet reached the account of my last publication to 
the same effect. 

In the year 1834, "Quarantine and other Sanatory Systems," 
constituted the subject of the Boylston prize question, in Harvard 
University. I became a competitor for the prize, and won it, by 
a dissertation in which I denied the contagiousness of plague, 
pronounced quarantines as then practised an unnecessary product 
of ignorance and superstition, and exposed the many evils it 
arbitrarily and fanatically inflicted on the commercial world. I 
say " fanatically inflicted," for the very term quarantine (a lustra- 
tion of forty days) plainly evinces that the institution was founded 
in a spirit of superstitious bigotry and blindness, which paralyzed 



CIIARLKS CALDWELL, M. D. 425 

healthy observation and inquiry, turned sober reflection into 
stubborn dogmatism, and by thus holding in thraldom commer- 
cial nations, prevented for centuries their improvement and 
prosperity. 

In the decision passed on my prize dissertation on the non -con- 
tagious nature of plague, and the evils of quarantine, a circum- 
stance occurred not unworthy to be recorded. The comparative 
merit of several other dissertations and mine was to be decided 
by the verdict of eight arbiters, to whom they were submitted 
for examination and judgment. Mine was the only essay that 
denied the contagious nature of plague, and condemned the action 
and inlluence of quarantine; and every member of the judicial 
body was opposed to me in sentiment, when he commenced the 
inspection of my essay. Yet was their decision in my favor as a 
competitor for the prize unanimous. The reason is plain. Never 
had they previously scrutinized the subject, but had, I might say, 
instinctively adopted the opposite opinion, as a superstitious and 
hereditary creed in medicine. But their instinct and its oreed 
Were educational, and therefore artificial, not natural, the product 
of erring man, not of the unerring Creator. Such is the contrast 

between opinions of even enlightened men, before and after tbey 
have duly examined the merits of a subject. And so sacred 
ought examination before decision to be held, and conscientiously 
performed I For, as I have elsewhere said, where one man of even 
limited intelligence and information fails to attain the truth for 
want of mental ability, one hundred fail for want of industry and 
careful inquiry. 

An account of one effort more which I made about forty years 
ago, to relieve commerce from the trammels and consequent mis- 
chief o( quarantine regulations, and I shall dismiss the subject. 

AUuit that date (the precise year not remembered), I was ap- 
pointed a member of the Board of Health, of Philadelphia, a body 
invested with power to superintend, direct, and modify, at plea- 
sure, the entire economy of the quarantine establishment. The 
appointment I held for one year; and during that period I 
neither slumbered nor slept on the subject, but devoted to it 
every hour I could redeem from my most indispensable personal 
ensasements. And I succeeded in no small degree in the aceom- 
plishment of my wishes. 



426 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

I had the address to acquire, whether deservedly or undeserv- 
edly, such a lead in the Board of Health, as to be able to control 
all its principal measures. I therefore had laws and resolutions 
enacted, of such moderation, as to exempt from detention at the 
Lazaretto all healthy persons and healthy ships (no matter from 
where they came) any longer than was sufficient for thorough in- 
spection and cleansing of person and clothing, vessels, and a few 
sorts of dry goods. And I had the gratification to be assured by 
men of knowledge on the subject, and strict veracity, that mer- 
chants had saved perhaps seveu-eighths of what they would have 
otherwise expended and lost by quarantine restrictions. 

Nor was this relaxation of the economy of quarantine confined 
to the Lazaretto of Philadelphia. It was gradually but slowly 
introduced into those of New York, Baltimore, Charleston, and 
other commercial cities of the United States ; and still much more 
slowly into those of Europe. But it as certainly found its way 
to the latter emporiums as to the former. For, at this period, the 
weight of expense and general annoyance of quarantine exac- 
tions are diminished more than one-half, when compared to their 
condition at the commencement of this century. And though 
Europe in general, and Great Britain in particular, will not 
acknowledge themselves indebted to America for the improve- 
ment and relief, yet is it as certain that the amelioration com- 
menced in the United States (locally in Philadelphia), as it is that 
it now exists; and that is as certain as that the country exists. 

Nor did I merely recommend the measure. As already men- 
tioned, I officially, in the capacity of a member of the Philadel- 
phia Board of Health, practically introduced it into the Lazaretto 
economy of that city. Nor, as far as I am informed, has a single 
improvement I thus introduced into that institution been subse- 
quently abolished, or materially changed. I shall only add, that 
for many years I labored as strenuously against violent opposi- 
tion, and at first alone, for the production in the United States of 
an amended system of quarantine, as I did for the first introduc- 
tion into the country, and the ultimate establishment, of the 
science of Phrenology. 

Another topic, both interesting and important, on which I be- 
lieve myself to have been the first individual (certainly in the 
United States, and, as far as my information respecting it extends, 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 427 

in any other country) who wrote analytically and philosophically, 
is Prison Discipline and Moral Education and Reform — meaning 
the education and reform of culprits. 

In the year 1829, 1 published an essay of upward of fifty octavo 
pages, under that title, in which I treated the subject, as I am 
bound to believe, more scientiBcally than it had ever been pre- 
viously treated; and which wa3 favorably received in Europe, and 
copious extracts from it republished in the English, and also in 
the French language. Whether it was published entire in Europe 
I do not remember. Nor am I authorized, by any conclusive in- 
formation received on the subject, to speak specially of its effect 
there in improving the economy and conditions of prisons. But 
that the condition of those establishments has been improved since 
that period is not to be questioned. 

Within the same period, however, in the United States, that 
the improvement in the general management of prisons is much 
greater than in any portion of Europe is an indisputable truth. 
Ami that such management is much more strongly characterized 
now by the principles recommended, or rather inculcated in my 
essay, than it was at the time the pamphlet was published, is 
equally true. Whether the principles and doctrines incorporated 
in the prison discipline and economy are derived from the publi- 
cation referred to, let others decide ; I shall only observe that no 
other source is known to me from which they might have been 
so easily derived. And it is not customary for men voluntarily 
to encounter unnecessary trouble in the acquisition of knowledge. 
I feel encouraged to hold it a reasonable inference, rather than an 
unfounded assumption, to allege that my pamphlet of lb2U has 
been to some extent instrumental in the improvement of peniten- 
tiarv discipline and moral education and reform in the prisons of 
the Tinted States. And the fundamental, operative, and produc- 
tive principle on which my pamphlet rests, and aims to contribute 
to the real amelioration of criminal offenders, is included in the 
maxim (for a maxim it is) that such offenders are never amended 
in their morals by severe and degrading punishment. They may 
be and usually are rendered more cautious and artful in the com- 
mission of crime, to avoid detection and escape capture and its 
consequences ; but, that their criminal propensities are rather 
Strengthened thau enfeebled by it might be easily rendered highly 



428 AUTOBIOGKAPHY OF 

probable, if not conclusively proved. To cultivate and strengthen 
his moral and religious organs, and debilitate bis antagonizing 
ones, constitutes tbe only process by which the depraved and 
ruinous propensities and habits of criminals can be affected, and 
virtuous ones made to succeed them. Such is the report of reason 
and judgment, and such the practical teaching of enlightened ex- 
perience. And from their joint decision truth and sound policy 
authorize no appeal. 



429 



CHATTER XV. 

Literary and scientific portion of my Autobiography — Catalogue — Conclusion. 

It was once my intention to select as many of my publications 
as would make a number of common sized volumes, embracing 
subjects and essays or treatises that might be fitly associated under 
the same cover, and recommend them to my family or executors 
for posthumous republication. But I have abandoned that design, 
and, instead of selections, shall give a catalogue of the whole of 
them, as Car as 1 can call them to memory and collect them, and 
simply mention a few of them, which I deem most important, and 
on the excogitation and composition of which I bestowed most 
time, and which have been most highly esteemed by the ablest 
judges. With regard to them, my surviving friends will act as 
their judgment may direct them. 



CATALOGUE OF THE miLISMED WRITINGS AND TRANSLATIONS OF 
CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D., &C. to. 

FROM TUK YEAR 17'J4 l.NTIL TUB YEAR 1851. 
PATR. PAGES. 

1795. Blumenbach's Elements of Physiology; translated from 

the Latin, with a Dedication, Preface, Appendix, and 
Notes, by the Translator . . . .203 

Dedication, Preface, aud Appendix . . .41 

1796. Caldwell's Medical Theses . _ . 69 
1801. Address "on the Analogies of Yellow Fever and True Plague 44 

" Character of Washington . . . .15 
Medical and Physical Memoirs : — 

Memoir 1. Physical Sketch of Philadelphia . . 73 
" Memoir -J. Facts aad Discussion relative to the Origin 

and Nature of Yellow Fever . . 159 

" .Memoir;:. Winter Retreat of the Swallow . . 40 

" Memoir 4. Goitre . . . .18 



430 



AUTOBIOGKAPHY OF 



DATE. 

1802. 



1805. 



1806. 
1807. 



1808. 



1809. 



1810. 



1811. 



1812. 



1813. 



Address on the Endemic Diseases of Europe and America 

— their difference in point of frequency and force 
Eulogy on George Lee .... 
Reply to Dr. Haygarth's Letter to Dr. Percival . 
Thoughts on a Health Establishment in the City of Phila 

delphia ..... 

As Editor of Medical Theses 

Preface and Appendix to it . 
Three Lectures on the Vitality of the Blood 
Prospectus of Medical Classics 
On the Truth of Physiognomy 
Anniversary Oration, on the subject of Quarantines 
Translation from the French of Alibert on Intermittents. 

Preface, Introduction, and Appendix by the Translator 
Address to Judge Peters, on the Equivocal Production and 

Spontaneous Growth of Plants 
Portfolio : — 

Life of Thomas Truxton 

Notice of Edwin LeRoy McCall 

Character of Polonius . 
Address on the Character and Administration of Wash 

ington .... 
Oration on American Independence 
Notice of Edward Shippen 
Translation from the French of Desault's Surgery. Text 

Preface and Appendix by Translator 
On "Washington . 
Memoir of Benjamin Chew, Esq. . 
Inchiquin's Letters 
The Drama — Mr. Cooke . 

Life of Fisher Ames, in "Edinburgh Encyclopedia" 
Vegetable Usurpation and Aversion 
On the Influence of Comets 
On Earthquakes . 
A Retrospect of the Tear 1811 
Life of Captain John Smith 
• Review of Rush on the Mind 
Life of Fisher Ames (Portfolio) 
Eulogy on Dr. Shippen (Portfolio) 
A Sketch of Commodore Barry (Portfolio) 
An Obituary of Alexander Wilson, the Ornithologist 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 431 

DATE. PAGES. 

1813. A Tribute to the Memory of Dr. Rush 16 

1814. An Oration on American Independence . . 65 
" To the Patrons of the Portfolio . . .16 
" Memoir of Commodore Dale . . .16 
" To Readers and Correspondents ... 3 
" An Essay on the Variety, Complexion, and Figure of the 

Human Species 
" Life of Henry Laurens (Portfolio) 
" Life of Captain Warrington (Portfolio) . 
" American Heroism (Portfolio) 

Life of Jesse P. Elliot (Portfolio) 
" Corsair — Critical Remarks on (Portfolio) 
" To Readers and Correspondents 



1815. Reply to Preron's Criticism on Shakspeare 
" Reply to a Curious Fragment of a Journal by a Scotch 

Gentleman | Portfolio) 
" Critique on American Jurisprudence (Portfolio) 
" Review of the War in Louisiana (Portfolio) 
" Life of General Brown (Portfolio) 
" Virgil's Pollio translated ( Portfolio) 
" Critique on Etoderic — Last of the Goths (Portfolio) 
" Analysis of Delaplaine's Picture of Pern's Victory (Port 
folio) . 
18-15. Criticism i>n Thomas Paine a~ a Poel (Portfolio) 
Criticism on Hoggs Queen's Wake (Portfolio) 
Life of General Francis Gnrney (Portfolio) 
Battle of the Falls (Portfolio) 
Question decided (Portfolio) 
To Readers and Correspondents (Portfolio) 

1816. Reviewer Reviewed; or. the Author turned Critic 
Caldwell's Cullen, with Advertisement, Preface, Introduc 

tion, Notes, and Appendix. 

Advertisement, Preface, and Introduction 

Appendix to Vol. I. 

Notes to Vol. I. and II. 

Appendix to Vol. II. 
Lives of Distinguished Americans : — 
Preface 



432 AUTOBIOGBAPHY OF 



Life of Columbus . . . . .17 

" Americus Vesputius 1 

" Benjamin Rush . . . .18 

" Fisher Ames . . . . .14 

" Alexander Hamilton . . . .19 

" George Washington . . . .25 

1818. Eulogy on Caspar Wistar . . . .28 
" Facts and Observations touching the question — " Is it 

expedient to unite, in the University of Pennsylvania, 
Clinical Medicine, and the Practice of Medicine, with 
Materia Medica?" . , . . .16 

1819. Life of General Greene . . . . .452 
" Inaugural Address on the Opening of the Medical Depart- 
ment of the University of Transylvania . . 28 

1820. Address to the Committee on Education of both Houses of 

the Legislature of Kentucky, on the subject of the Medi- 
cal Department of the University of Transylvania . 23 
" Yaledictory Address to the Graduates of the Medical De- 
partment of Transylvania University . . .8 
" Remarks on a Review of my Memoirs of General Greene 12 
" Letter from the Professors of the Medical Department of 
the University of Transylvania to the Citizens of the 
West ....... 3 

1822. Caldwell on Generation . . . . .33 

1823. Outlines of a Course of Lectures on the Institutes of 

Medicine . . . . . .188 

1824. Elements of Phrenology . . . . .100 
" Defence of the Medical Profession against the charge of 

Irreligion and Infidelity . . . .77 

1825. Thoughts on the probable Destiny of New Orleans in rela- 

tion to Health . . . . . .15 

" On Independence of Intellect . . . .49 

" Analysis of Fever ... .91 

1826. Medical and Physical Memoirs .... 224 
182*7. Elements of Phrenology (Second edition) . 279 

" On the Preservative and Restorative Powers of Nature . 37 
" On Optimism . . . . . .32 

" On the Teaching and Diffusion of the Science of Medicine 

in Western America . . . . .17 

1828. On the circulation of the Venous Blood (First and Second 

Parts) ....... 36 



CnARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 433 

DATE. PACES. 

182«. Singular Cases . . . 7 
" Memoirs of the Rev. Horace Holly, D. D. 2l>3 
1820. Letter tu George Lyon, Esq., Secretary of the Edinburgh 
Phrenological Society, on the Phrenological Develop- 
ments 1 Character of the North American Indiana; 

and on the probable Destiny of that Pace of Hen . 
" Letters from Theodoric to Astasia . .41 

" Thoughts on the Changes of Matter and their Causes . 43 
" Thoughts on the Advantages of a National University . 38 
" New Views i >f Penitentiary Discipline and Moral Reform 52 
" Thoughts on the Structure ami Dependencies of the Science 

Of Medicine . . . .331 

" Phrenological Letter . ... 1 

" On Sedatives (Transylvania Journal) . . 22 

" On the Moulting of Birds . . '•• 

1830. Valedictory Address to the Medical Graduates of Transyl- 

vania University (Published at the request of the Class 

of Graduates) . 22 

" On the Study of the Greek and Latin Languages . 37 

" Review of Smith's Treatise on Fever (Trans. Journ.) 42 

" Thoughts <>n the Original Location of Fever 4."> 

" On Malaria, with an Appendix . 194 

On the Original Unity of the Human Race . . l' |v < 

On Febrile Miasms . . . . C3 

1831. A Letter in George Combe, Esq., <>n a Primitive Tribe of 

Americans, and on Phrenology in the United States 
(Trans. Journ. ) . . . . 4 

" Valedictory Address ... .16 

" Remarks on A. Carlisle's Fetter on Cholera Morbus 8 

" Literary and Intellectual Statistics (N. E. Mag.) . . 29 

" On Looking Backwards . . .4 

" On Epizootic Worms . 26 

1832. Oration on the First Centennial Anniversary of Washington 56 
" Thoughts on the Means of Preserving Health in Hot 

Climates ... . . . .24 

" Address on Intemperance (N F. Mag.) . . ."i2 

" Lecture on the Moral Influence of Railroads . 13 

On True Epicurism (N. E. Mag.) . . . 2o 

" Remarks on the Eloquence of Debate (N. F. Mag.) . 15 

On Mental Derangement (Trans. Journ.) . .12 

" On the Causes of Disease . . . .13 

28 



434 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

DATE. PAGES. 

1832. Eeview of Bell on Baths . . . . .63 
" Review of Jackson's Principles of Medicine (Trans. Journ.) 38 
" On Preserving Health (Trans. Journ.) . . 22 

Phrenology Vindicated— Parts I. and II. (X. E. Mag.) . 11 
Phrenology and Free Will . . . . 3 

1833. On Moral Medicine . . . . .32 
" On the True Mode of Improving the Condition of Man 

(Trans. Journ.) . . . . .44 

" On the Cause of Cholera (Trans. Journ.) . 12 

" Review of Jackson's Principles of Medicine, Part II. 

(Trans. Journ.) . . . . .59 

" Review of Cooke, Hodge, and Reese on Cholera . 65 

1834. On Physical Education . . . . .133 
" Address on Gambling . . . . .34 
" On the Impolicy of Multiplying Schools of Medicine . 35 
" Thoughts on Quarantines and other Sanitary Systems . 12 
" On Unsettled Points in Physiology . . .34 
" Review of Cyclopedia of Practical Medicine 21 
" Review of Morton on Consumption . . .21 
" Review of Beaumont on Gastric Juice . . 41 
" Review of Combe on Physiology applied to the Preserva- 
tion of Health ...... 33 

1835. Phrenology Yindicated . . . . .90 
" Thoughts on the Vice of Gambling . . .59 

On the Spirit of Improvement ... 56 

" Phrenology Vindicated, in Remarks on Lord Brougham's 

Natural Theology ... .32 

" Review of Dunglison on Hygiene — Parts I. and II. 39 

1836. Letter to George Combe, Esq. .... 4 
" Thoughts on Popular and Liberal Education . .13 

Thoughts on Hygiene . . . . .64 

" Inaugural Address to College of Physicians and Surgeons 

of Lexington . . . . . .38 

" Address to the Legislature of Kentucky on the State of the 

Medical Department of the University of Transylvania 35 

" On the Modus Operandi of Medicine . . .35 

1831. General Physiology of Yellow Fever . . .40 

" Thoughts on Schools of Medicine . . .31 

1838. Eulogy on Philip Syng Physick ... 41 

" On the Influence of Mental Cultivation on the Destinies 

of Louisville . . . . . .34 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M.D. 435 

DATI - PA018. 

1838. Lecture on Education . . . 33 

Address on Education, delivered at .Tcflersontown 17 

Thoughts on the Eate or Comparative Rank of Human 

Talents . . r, 

Thoughts on the Peopling of the Continent of America 22 

" Memoir of the Rev. Timothy Flint -21 

183!). Thoughts on the Efficiency of the Human Brain as the Or- 
pin of the Human .Mind . . 50 
" Letterto the Editor of the American Phrenological Journal 51 
" Materialism and Fatalism . . 61 
" On the true Connection between Phrenology and Religion -Jt 
1840. Thoughts on the Character and Standing of the Mechanical 

Profession . . . 34 

" On the Nervous System . 29 

1842. Thoughts .'iinl Experiments on .Mesmerism 131 

1843 Vindication of Physiology 
" Review of Researches on Embryology, in three series. By 
Martin Barry, M l>.. P. R. s. &c, and Fellow of the 
Koval Colleire of Physicians of Edinburgh 
" Review of the climate of the Unite. i Btates ami its Epi- 
demic Influences, baaed <>n the Records of the Medical 
Department and Adjutant-General's office, U.S.A. 
By Sam. Porrey, M. 1>. (Western Review of Medicine 
and Surgerj ) . . . . . 12. 

" Revieti of Dnngliaon on the Practice of Medicine 2\ 

" Thoughts on the Philosophy of Education 20 

1813. Baehtiar Xameh, or the Royal Foundling; a Persian rtory, 

translated from the Arabic 269 

1832. Review of Flint's Geography of the Mississippi Valley 35 

Translation from Latin into verse (being in character of a 
motto in Vol. II. of Darwin's Zoononla). 
1840. Review of Hosack's Theory and Practice of Physic 4."> 

1829. Review of an Essay on the Invalidity of Presbyterian Ordi- 
nation, by J. E. Cooke. M. D. . 22 
lsl 1. Remarks on a Review of Dr. Gross's Elements of Patho- 
logical Anatomy . . . . 40 
1840. Review of -Morton's Cratua Americana . 21 
Thoughts on Optimism . . . ;s 
Is II. Review of Outlines of the Institutes of Medicine, founded 
ou the Philosophy of the Human Economy in Health 



436 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

DATE. PAGES. 

and Disease — in three parts — by Joseph A. Gallup, 
M.D 27 

1841. Review of Medical and Physiological Commentaries, by 

Martyn Paine, M. D. . . . . .14 

" Review of Roget's Outlines of Physiology, with an Appen- 
dix on Phrenology . . . . .19 

" A Letter to the Editor of the American Phrenological 

Journal ...... 6 

1821. Singular Case of Taenia, and Treatment . . .6 

" Thoughts on Sympathy, in a Letter to Professor Chapman 22 
1829. Thoughts on the Origin of Language 
1834. Phrenology Vindicated . . . .103 

1799. Semi-Annual Address to the Academy of Medicine of 

Philadelphia . . . . . .58 

1846. A Lecture Introductory to a Course of Lectures by the 

Medical Department of the University of Louisville . 34 
Thoughts on the Effects of Age on the Human Constitu- 
tion (a special Introductory) . . . .27 

1849. Thoughts on the Education, Qualifications, and Duties of 

the Physicians of the United States (a Valedictory Ad- 
dress, delivered on the 5th day of March) . . 38 
1848. Thoughts on the Impolicy and Injustice of Capital Punish- 
ment, on the Rationale of Crime, and on the best Sys- 
tem of Penitentiary Discipline and Moral Reform . 64 

1850. Thoughts on the Connection of Electricity with Epidemic 

Diseases (Published in the Transylvania Med. Journ.) 22 

1851. A Professional Letter. No Physician can teach others the 

Correct Treatment of Diseases, until he has learned it 
himself; nor can he learn it, except by Practice (Trans. 
Med. Journ.) . . . . .19 

1812. Critique on New Views of the Tribes and Nations of 

America, by Ben. S. Barton (Portfolio) . . 20 

1805. A Treatise on the Hidden Nature and Treatment of Inter- 
mitting and Remitting Fevers ; translated from the Latin 
of Jean Senac, with Notes, a Dedication, and a Preface 299 

1851. Thoughts on the Original Unity of the Human Race. 
Second edition, with additions and improvements. The 
additions consist in a Preface and an Appendix, the 
latter containing two original articles of considerable 
length. Printed in Cincinnati, A. D. 1852. 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 437 

Previously to referring to any other material differences in 
point of merit between the foregoing publications, T shall specially 
mention one, which, if not thus noticed, neither would nor could 
be known to but very few, if any, ordinary readers, by whom 
the work may be hereafter perused. Nor, whatever may be the 
nature and amount of that difference, will it perhaps be prac- 
ticable for me, by all the light I can throw on the subject by- 
words, to make it be duly considered, clearly understood, and 
correctly appreciated by one in a thousand of those who may 
become acquainted with these remarks. 

At this enlightened period of the world, it is hardly necessarv 
for me to observe that the interest and value attached to scientific 
publications depend, in a great measure, on the three follow in L r 
considerations : their novelty or recency of discovery, their prac- 
tical usefulness, and the attractiveness of the style and manner 
in which they are written. 

Is the essay or treatise ably and elegantly composed, and does 
it contain new and important discoveries calculated to enrich 
science, honor the native country of the discoverer, and signally 
promote the welfare of man ? Its interest and value are deemed 
by competent judges of a high and distinguished order. It is 
hailed as a new star in the firmament of truth, destined to enlighten 
the world of mind, on which it shines, warms, and ministers to 
its uses, and enhance its welfare, as long as the sun shall operate 
in the same way on the worlds of matter to whose uses he 
ministers. 

Does the production, instead of disclosing new and useful 
truths, offer evidence and aid in favor of less recent discoveries 
of important matter, the truth of which is not yet full}- established 
in public belief, but is arduously battling with ignorance and 
bigotry, and other impediments, and thus debarred from its 
benefactions to the world? It also is regarded as a publication 
of interest and value, but less so than it would be were it the 
record of a recent discovery. The latter would be prized as 
a fresh gem added to the diadem of science in its virgin lustre, 
while the former would be less valued and admired, because 
somewhat deprived of its splendor by use. Is the essay a 
repository of long known material of great abstract value, 
newly arranged and combined, and under a fresh garniture, 



438 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

with new inferences deducible and applicable to the furtherance 
of new purposes? Great and lasting benefits may still result 
from it; but it will be received with less enthusiasm, admiration, 
and applause than either of the preceding ones. The reason is 
plain. Long use has dimmed the brilliancy it originally pos- 
sessed. 

On these remarks, the applicability to the topic I am consider- 
ing is sufficiently obvious, or will be so by the following exposi- 
tion : — 

A large number of the preceding productions are controversial; 
nor, from their nature and character, could they be otherwise. 
They were either written on new subjects first called into notice, 
advocated, and expounded by myself, or they were written in 
defence of points originally broached by other original writers, 
and stubbornly opposed and misrepresented, traduced and de- 
nounced by that immense mass of perverted and unnatural, or 
rather anti-natural description of men denominated conservatives. 
To that great body of error-mongers, I apply the term "anti- 
natural," because it is more strictly and significantly descriptive 
of them. Not content with merely deviating from nature, they 
act in direct opposition to her. As far as the human intellect 
can penetrate and comprehend it, her course is, and has been, 
since the morning of creation, in both mind and matter, pro- 
gressive and ameliorating. It has manifested, in its different 
successive stages and conditions, different degrees of development 
and action ; and the succeeding condition has never failed to sur- 
pass, in its order of excellence, that which preceded it. In every 
page of the great and glorious volume of geology, a record to 
that effect is indelibly written by the finger of the Deity himself. 

But the arrestation of that course is the direct tendency of the 
entire class of conservatives. Let their views and wishes prevail 
in the economy of sublunary affairs, and in not a few of the most 
prominent cases progression will be extinct. And the motives 
which influence them to measures so replete with such folly and 
mischief — if, indeed, they can be called "motives" — appear to be 
different in different instances. 

Thus, for example, some conservatives are inimical to things 
that are new (no matter whether they be actions or thoughts), sim- 
ply because they are new, and not handed down to them by some 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 439 

illustrious personage — an Aristotle, or a Galileo, a Bacon, or a 
Newton — who flourished and irradiated the world ages and cen- 
turies ago ; thus preferring the authority of great and eminent, 
but still occasionally erring men, to the authority of nature who 
never errs. Yet, strange and blundering inconsistency ! those 
illustrious men, who are the idols of the conservators now, were, 
during their lives, nature's great ministerial progressives, and 
were ferociously opposed, and mercilessly denounced and perse- 
cuted by the conservators who were their contemporary - 

Others have objected to the truth and usefulness of all things 
new, because they have not been inculcated on themselves at com- 
mon schools, academies, or colleges, during their boyhood or youth, 
by their own immediate teachers. Another party oppose disco- 
veries and improvements, because they themselves, though edu- 
cated men, had not in any way contributed to their effectuation. 
And the objections of another clique have arisen from their own 
stupidity or indolence, or both, which have prevented them E 
acquiring even a smattering (1 might have said a shadow of know- 
ledge) of the novelties taught. 

Nor is it less true that numbers of conservators, beyond calcu- 
lation, oppose and abuse disc varies through imitation and fashion. 
Of the knowledge of them they neither possess nor affect to 
sess even the most worthless shred, and are so far honest. But 
they eagerly listen to the tattle and condemnation of others no 
less disqualified to judge and decide, and become their echo. 

Such are some of the motley multitude of conservators, among 
the whole of whose views, notions, and motives, not one is cither 
liberal, rational, or praiseworthy. And as I am neither formed, 
trained, nor in aijy respect fashioned for either a parasite or sub- 
missive retainer, but am inflexibly resolved on the enjoyment of 
the freedom and independence of all my faculties; and as, from 
certain further attributes (which make part of my nature, and are 
no more subject to my control than gravity is to that of a ponder- 
ous body), 1 am Btrongly enamored of discovery and useful novelty; 
from these considerations, which are the native growth of my 
mental constitution, and unyieldingly rebellious toward restraint, 
I have been more or less at war with the world of conservatives 
ever since the earliest remembrances of my boyhood. 

Ou the subjects of a large majority of the preceding productions, 



4i0 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

I bad never seen a line by any otber pen, when I fearlessly made 
tbem the topic of my own. 

Hence has arisen the controversial career I have pursued, as a 
writer and teacher, during the whole course of my life. In con- 
ceiving and forming opinions myself (whatever might have been 
their merit), I am known to have been at all times ahead of the 
multitude of my contemporary writers. And, in my adoption of 
the yiews of other originals, whether discoverers or conceivers, 
the same is true. I was also ahead of the " million" in my advo- 
cacy of them. This led me, as a matter of course, into a twofold 
form of controversy — one in behalf of my own original opinions; 
and the other in behalf of those of others, in the correctness of 
which I concurred; while the great body of timid conservatives 
opposed them. And I am known also to have been equally 
prompt and zealous in my defence of both. For, I have never 
paused to become the advocate of what I conscientiously believed 
to be a new truth. Moral cowardice, creating a dread of the loss 
of temporary popularity (misnamed prudence by a time-serving 
world), never deterred me for a moment from entering the lists. 
Perhaps what the over-cautious deemed and called the peril at- 
tending the enterprise, even drew me to the tournament with 
greater certainty and promptness than would have otherwise ex- 
isted. 

But be this as it may, it is not to be doubted that an inordinate 
love of new truths, and an inordinately eager desire and ambition 
to be instrumental in their defence and propagation, have operated 
as one of the reasons why, in compliance with the so oft-repeated 
advice, and I might say, entreaty of my friends, I have never 
written a large practical work, consisting, of necessity, in a great 
measure of old, or at least of well-known and fully tested and 
established matter. And were my life to be passed over again, I 
feel persuaded that the result would be the same. I would cling 
to the pursuit and enjoyment of fresh virgin truths with much 
less pecuniary profit, rather than occupy myself with fagged and 
faded every-day truths, accompanied by all the profits they could 
confer. 

But had I achieved nothing else, I have experienced one en- 
joyment, of which neither envy, malice, nor any other form of 
sinister feeling can deprive me, and which, to an independent, 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 441 

proud, and philanthropic mind, is altogether invaluable — the en- 
joyment of the success of truth under whose banner I have 
fought; for I fearlessly, as heretofore mentioned, defy contradic- 
tion when I assert every new and important opinion and doctrine, 
whether lirst broached by others or myself, in whose behalf I 
have seriously and earnestly made battle, has been ultimately and 
conclusively settled in the affirmative (I mean in favor of the 
arguments and principles I advocated), and which is not now pre- 
valent, and to all appearance permanently established. Nor is 
the reverse less true. I with equal confidence defy, on the same 
conditions, the adduction of a single dogma or doctrine, in oppo- 
sition to which I earnestly and resolutely became a combatant, 
that has not sustained great disrepute, if not positive subversion. 

In assuming the title of pioneer of medical schools and medical 
philosophy in the Mississippi Valley, and of premier in the found- 
ing and establishment of the only two celebrated schools it has 
ever contained, I aspire to neither present honor, nor present 
profit in consideration of them. Experience and observation have 
long since taught me that the envy, jealousy, mortified pride, and 
other grovelling and sinister feelings of contemporaries conspire 
to withhold them both ; and that such feelings rarely fail to suc- 
ceed in their conspiracy. It is to future and remote time alone, 
when tlmse sentiments and the possessors of them shall have 
1 Kissed away, that I look for the posthumous reward that justly 
belongs to them. That, however, cannot be a reward ot profit, in 
the usual acceptation of the term. Nor is it a reward of time- 
serving and transient popularity. Its constituents are well- 
founded honor and lasting renown, the predominant and unfading 
reward for the attainment of which I have strenuously and per- 
severinglv labored for more than half a century. Nor, presump- 
tuous as the acknowledgment may perhaps be deemed, do I fear 
that I have labored altogether in vain. My hope is strong and 
mv belief by no means feeble that the due reward will be con- 
ferred on my name, when my earthly existence shall be nothing 
but a name, and the effects of my labors. 

That the authors of discoveries calculated to benefit the condi- 
tion of man, as well as the improvers and early patrons of such 
discoveries, rarely if ever receive at first the estimation and reward 
to which they are entitled, and which subsequently accrues to 



442 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

them, is a familiar and oft-proved truth. And, as already stated, 
envy, superstition, and selfishness are to be regarded as its prin- 
cipal causes. But they are not its only ones. Ignorance of the 
tendency and effects of great discoveries and achievements con- 
tribute not a little to the same end. Nor can that ignorance be 
otherwise removed than by the teaching of time, observation, 
and experience. For the production, therefore, the influence of 
that teaching must be awaited not only patiently, but often for a 
protracted series of years. 

In proof of the essential and sufficient support which I was 
instrumental in giving to the two medical schools of Lexington 
and Louisville, truth abundantly sanctions my assertion that both 
those institutions flourished beyond expectation while I remained 
a member of them, and declined in prosperity and reputation 
when I left them. True, for several years the decadency of 
the Lexington school was comparatively slow ; but it was also 
constant, and it ultimately lost almost everything but its name. 
Its class of near three hundred pupils fell to a number not a little 
inferior to one hundred ; and is now, I am told, in the gasp of 
dissolution. 

But very different in its downward dash was the Louisville 
school. By " sowing the wind" in a blast of folly it " reaped the 
whirlwind," and fell in a plunge, like Lucifer from the skies, 
never, as I am persuaded, to regain its elevated station and pros- 
perous condition. It is less than three years since, in a paroxysm 
of tyranny, equally forbidden by justice, wisdom, sound policy, 
and moral principle, I was removed from my professorship in it 
by the Board of Trustees ; and from a class of more than four 
hundred, which adorned and dignified its halls, as if it had been 
stricken by the breath of the sirocco, it has already withered to 
a class of about two hundred and fifty, and is still on the decline. 
But no more of this. 

Such is my Autobiography (only a few paragraphs wanting, as 
will in a moment more formally appear) up to the present date 
(Aug. 26, 1852). And it is in one respect perhaps as extraordi- 
nary a memoir of the kind as has ever been written. It extends 
through a course of life and action from my birth until within 
two months of the close of my eightieth year. And it is all the 



CHARLES CALmVELL, M. D. 443 

product of my own pen, and since the earliest date of my remem- 
brance, the fruit of my own experience, and the dictate of my 
own intellect. 

The entire biographical account of Dr. Franklin indeed over- 
runs mine in extent of time by four years and five months. But 
its autobiographical portion falls short of it near thirty years, 
reaching only from January 17, 1706, to July 27, 1757, its biogra- 
phical portion from that period till the close of his life being from 
the able and classical pen of the Rev. Jared Sparks, President of 
Harvard University, the celebrated editor and annotator of the 
" Works of Franklin." And I doubt much whether there exists 
in print, in any language, an autobiography longer than that of 
Dr. Franklin. 1 know of none so long. 

Nor would it be less than Ludicrous, or even fabulous to fancy 
the existence of any similarity between correct narratives of the 
lives of Dr. Franklin and myself— we ourselves being in our charac- 
ters and pursuits, and in the periods of our living and acting, so 
widely different and remote from each other. Yet is there one 
form of thought and action in which wc are not merely alike, but 
identical. And, in its effect in modifying and assimilating habit 
and character, that is nearly all powerful. It is a measureless 
ambition and effort to excel in all, whether bodily or mental, that 
is either done or attempted by us. That such was the doctor's 
never-failing practice, he himself has assured us. 

And that 1 did the same is conclusively manifested in many of 
my assurances, and especially in the last of the three following 
rules of action, by which I regulated myself in all my schemes 
and concerns from the period of my boyhood, wh( I all of Frank- 
lin but his name was utterly unknown to me, to the present 
hour. 

"Never defer till to-morrow what can as well be done to-day.'' 

" Never do by proxy what you can as well do yourself." 

" Whatever you do, do as well as you can. - ' 

That to those wise observances Franklin owed much of his 
wonderful perfection, success, and usefulness, cannot be ques- 
tioned. 

And that, under the neglect of them, I could never have 
achieved even a tithe of what I did under their influence, is 
equally true. It was to no small extent that they moulded me 



414 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

into a practical operative and efficient man of affairs ; a character 
whose standing is of a higher and more useful order than that of 
a mere studious man, to whatever extent his studies and attain- 
ments may be carried. 

In a word, without the influence and agency of those three 
rules of practical life, I would never have become the pioneer of 
medical schools and medical philosophy, and the premier of the 
only distinguished medical schools that have been established in 
"Western America. But, by their operation and aid, those two 
titles are made irrevocably mine. Nor, without regarding the 
opinion that may be formed of my taste and judgment on ac- 
count of my choice, would I exchange them for the authorship of 
any two works on medicine that have made their appearance in 
the United States during the nineteenth century. 

[The following article was written and published by a gentle- 
man of distinguished ability of mind and attainment in letters* 
who has witnessed Dr. Caldwell's public course of life, scientific, 
literary, and practical, for the last twenty years. And, during 
the whole of that time, his professional business has led him to 
a close and constant observance, and habitual registry of public 
men and public measures. His report, therefore, on subjects of 
the sort, cannot be held a nullity unworthy to be recorded in this 
production. On the contrary, it is here appended and recorded 
as both a significant and a suitable document. — Note by Ed.] 

DR. CHARLES CALDWELL. 

A recent allusion in one of the morning papers to Dr. Charles 
Caldwell, formerly Professor of the Institutes of Medicine and 
Medical Jurisprudence in the Medical Department of the Univer- 
sity of Louisville, has reminded us of a duty which we have long 
owed to that gentleman, and not the less to ourselves. It is known 
to many of our readers that ill-feelings have existed between the 
doctor and ourselves for several years, and that, in times past, hard 
blows were given and received by each of us. Of the causes of 
this state of feeling it is unnecessary now to speak, but it is right 
to say that, while we thought Dr. Caldwell held some heresies of 
doctrine, and had pursued, in some instances, a reprehensible 

* George D. Prentice, Esq., Ed. Louisville Journal. 



CHARLES CALDWELL, M. D. 445 

course of conduct, we never ceased to entertain the highest re- 
spect for his remarkable abilities, and for his varied and remark- 
able attainments. Whatever the causes of irritation may have 
been, we feel that Dr. Caldwell has arrived at a period of life 
when something is due to his many years and his more numerous 
honors, and we feel that we ourselves are approaching that period 
of life when it is pleasanter to think of past friendships than of 
present enmities, pleasanter to look upon the olive branch than 
upon the naked sword. Dr. C, a few months ago, made a fierce 
attack upon a friend of ours, bat that friend, the public are well 
aware, took care of himself. 

Dr. Caldwell is one of the few living bonds connecting the 
present with the past two generations, and is in many respects 
one of the most remarkable men that our country has yet pro- 
duced. Coming into active life near the close of the eighteenth 
Century, for nearly threescore of years he lias exerted no small 
influence in various walks of BCienoe and literature — an influence 
that has always, we believe, been direeted or sought to be directed 
to the furtherance of the best and highest interests of humanity. 
From the very outset of his career, he has taken rank among the 
foremost men of his time. He was surrounded in early profes- 
sional life by such men as Kush (whose pupil he was), Shippen, 
Kulm, Wistar, and others, the early giants of the medical profes- 
sion; and of these, then in the zenith of their renown. Dr. Cald- 
well was at once the peer and compeer, He did not hesitate, even 

at this early period, while yet a mere stripling, to enter the lists 
in opposition to Dr. Kush on some points connected with yellow 
fever, and sueli was his power and force of argument that he 
gained a victory, and, in consequence, lost for several years his 
old preceptor's friendship. Kush, however, at length acknow- 
ledged his error, and, lor many years before his death, was one of 
Dr. Caldwell's warmest friends. 

None of our distant readers are aware, and few even of Dr. 
Caldwell's intimate friends are aware, of the extent and variety 
of his published writings. lie began to publish while yet an 
undergraduate, and throughout his long life has been unceasingly 
active and busy with the pen in translations, annotations, pam- 
phlets, monographs, essays, an 1 contributions of various kin. Is to 
medical ami other periodicals. Much the larger portion of these 



446 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

writings relate to matters strictly professional, but yet a very 
large portion relate to matters extra-professional. They are 
extra-professional, however, only in the common or popular 
sense. The great poet-moralist has said that " the proper study 
of mankind is man." In Dr. Caldwell's view, the proper study 
of the physician is man — man in his physical, his mental, and his 
moral relations. Regarded in this light, every branch of human 
science, every department of human knowledge, every variety of 
human experience should come within the scope of the truly wise 
physician. Before attaining his majority, Dr. Caldwell published 
a translation of BlumenbacKs Physiology, at that time one of the 
most authoritative works on the subject, and one even yet of 
great excellence. This was a most valuable and timely contribu- 
tion in our medical literature, as the Latin language, in which 
the original was written, rendered it inaccessible to most of the 
profession, whether students or practitioners. The early direc- 
tion thus given to his studies has continued through life, or per- 
haps we say, that the tastes thus early evinced have been culti- 
vated all his life long. Physiology, in its widest signification, 
has been Dr. Caldwell's favorite study — the central one, as it 
were, around which he has grouped, and to the illustration of 
which he has brought whatever acquisitions he has made in other 
branches of knowledge. He has written much and written well 
on a great variety of physiological questions, and it is a little 
remarkable that he has never given his views to the public in a 
complete system or treatise. Dr. Caldwell, as has already been 
made kuown in this journal, is an uncompromising opponent of 
many of the views of the microscopists or transcendental physio- 
logists, 1 a*nd of the chemico-physiologists. And this opposition 
is by no means recent. When those views were first broached, 
twenty or thirty years ago, he opposed them as steadily and 
firmly as he does now. Nor is he alone in this opposition. Many 
other of the best minds in the profession view with distrust the 

1 On one point, the author of this article is mistaken. I have never opposed 
microscopical or transcendental philosophy, in the true sense of the term. It is 
chemical philosophy I have opposed, that mongrel nondescript branch of science — 
no, not of science, but of blunders and balderdash — which identifies man in function 
with a German stove, or a Belgian beer'barrel. — C. C. 



CHARLES CALIjWELL, M. D. 447 

modern invasion of the domains of physiology by microscopy and 
chemistry. 

We believe that Dr. Caldwell was first brought into public 
notice by .some observations which he published on the yellow 
fever, which was then prevailing, or which had recently pre- 
vailed, in Philadelphia. It was these observations that led to the 
controversy with Rush just now alluded to. In the same connec- 
tion, his attention was directed to the causes of epidemic disease, 
generally to hygiene, and to medical practice, and his writings on 
these subjects, at this and other periods of his life, are among the 
most valuable of their kind that we possess. They have unques- 
tionably done much to eidighten both the public and professional 
mind ; as an instance, we may cite the disuse of the old systems 
of quarantine that were so troublesome, so expensive, so mis- 
chievous, and, at the same time, so barren of any good result. 
Some of the doctrines advocated by him met with powerful op- 
position both at home and abroad; but time, which is troth, has 
set its BeaJ upon them. While still very young, Dr. Caldwell 
was appointed Professor of Natural History in the Pennsylvania 
University — an evidence both of his scientific attainments and of 
the high standing he was in among the men of that period. This 
appointmenl gave him full scope for his favorite studies, and the 
result was seen a few years later, in his reply to Dr. Stanhope 
Smith's frJwty ontht Co. the Variety of n and Figure 

of the Human Species — a reply so effectual that it not only killed 
the book, but caused suob chagrin and mortification to the author 
of it as to hasten his death. At a period still later, after Dr. (/aid- 
well had taken up his residence in the west, he published a small 
volume in answer to the second edition of Prichard's Researches 
into the Physical History ■■/Mux. To our thinking, Dr. Caldwell's 
volume contains a complete refutation of the views of Prichard. 
It covers, almost without exception, the whole ground, and, 
although, since its publication twenty years have elapsed, during 
which ethnology has been assiduously cultivated, its facts and 
arguments are as conclusive to-day as they were then. We men- 
tion this matter more particularly, because the question has re- 
cently excited renewed discussion among the scientific men of 
the country. 

The subject of prison discipline is one in which Dr. Caldwell 



448 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

at an early day took a deep interest, and in connection with other 
distinguished gentlemen, he exerted himself powerfully and effec- 
tively to hring about the enlightened practice that prevails toward 
those confined in large prisons. Education is another subject on 
which he has bestowed much thought at all periods of his life, 
and he has ever been ready and active, both with pen and with 
voice, in the furtherance of educational movements. A favorite 
idea of his, many years ago, was that of a great National Univer- 
sity, in whose departments and colleges should be taught all the 
higher knowledge that pertains to the higher civilization, and 
from which the youth of the Republic might go forth not only 
thoroughly qualified for their various callings, but thoroughly 
informed with the true spirit of our institutions. It was a mag- 
nificent idea, and has been partially realized in the disposition 
which Congress made of the Smithson legacy. Some of Dr. Cald- 
well's views were developed by him in a discourse, full of fine 
thoughts and noble sentiments, delivered before one of the socie- 
ties of Miami University, in 1832. A year afterwards, he addressed 
a convention of teachers at Lexington, for two days, on another 
branch of the subject, physical education, which is so much ne- 
glected among us. These observations were subsequently pub- 
lished in the form of an essay, that was not only read with plea- 
sure in all circles at home, but received high encomium abroad, 
wher